RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel recently demanded that Democrats and Democratic organizations return any donations they had received from sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. “During three-decades worth of sexual harassment allegations, Harvey Weinstein lined the pockets of Democrats to the tune of three-quarters of a million dollars,” she thundered. “If Democrats and the DNC truly stand up for women like they say they do, then returning this dirty money should be a no brainer.”
In response, Democrats like Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, and others donated Weinstein’s contributions to charity. The DNC has also donated a portion of the funds it received over the years to political organizations that empower women.
Well now it’s time for the Republican organizations to follow RNC chair’s directive and return the donations they received from Donald Trump, a man who like Weinstein has admitted to sexually assaulting women. In fact, McDaniel’s original statement can be applied precisely to Trump by simply swapping in the underlined words: “During three-decades worth of sexual harassment allegations, Donald Trump lined the pockets of Republicans to the tune of nearly one million dollars.” Adding, “If Republicans and the RNC truly stand up for women like they say they do, then returning this dirty money should be a no brainer.” (Trump has donated more than $950,000 to the GOP organizations and Republican candidates over the past 26 years.)
In Trump’s case, 11 women came forward last year to publicly detail how Trump sexually assaulted them dating back to the late 1980s. (The BBC documents each incident in detail.) There was Jill Harth who told us that in 1993 when she was at the Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump “pushed me up against the wall, and had his hands all over me and tried to get up my dress again… I had to physically say: ‘What are you doing? Stop it.’”
A similar incident occurred in 2005 again at Mar-a-Lago when former People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff explained how Trump “pushed her against a wall and forced his tongue down her throat.” Then there’s the incident that instantly conjures up Weinstein’s MO with women. Former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos shared in painstaking detail that in 2007 Trump invited her to the Beverly Hills Hotel for what was supposed to be a meeting to discuss a job. But there, as Zervos explained, Trump “grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast.”
And like Weinstein, Trump admits he sexually assaulted women. We heard that on the infamous Access Hollywood tape where he bragged: “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it.” Adding, “You can do anything… Grab ’em by the pussy.”
Some on the right claim, as McDaniel did on CNN, that Trump is not as bad as Weinstein: “It’s not even comparable. Harvey Weinstein brought women into hotel rooms. To even to make that comparison is disrespectful to the president.”
Fine. Based on what we know, Weinstein is worse. But that’s meaningless. The point is that countless women have suffered because of their sexual misconduct and keeping their donations means you validate their conduct. Besides, Weinstein is not, you know, the president of the United States, who if anything should be held to a far higher standard than a Hollywood mogul.
And Trump did something uniquely revolting. After the women came forward, he publicly shamed them. We saw that at an October 2016 campaign rally in Pennsylvania where he exclaimed to his supporters: “Every woman lied.” He added, “The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.” In response, his supporters lustfully cheered. He has never sued any of the women but in January, Zervos filed a defamation lawsuit Trump for calling her a liar.
In any event, the question is, will the Republican organizations return the money Trump personally donated or at least give the funds to charity like the Democrats have? To that end I contacted various Republican state committees and PACs that Trump personally donated over $250,000 to in the past few years as documented by Federal Election Committee filings.
For example, on Aug. 19, 2012, Trump donated $100,000 to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a “super PAC exclusively dedicated to protecting and strengthening the Republican Majority in the House of Representatives.” On July 16, 2014, Trump donated $5,000 to the Super PAC of John Bolton (a man now rumored as a possible replacement for Rex Tillerson).
Then there was the $10,000 Trump donated on April 7, 2016, to the New York Republican Federal Campaign Committee. And the $50,000 he gave to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC in 2010.
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Trump also made personal donations to various GOP state organizations that held early presidential primaries such as $9,000 to the Iowa GOP state party in May 2015, and $5000 to each the New Hampshire and South Carolina GOP state party’s in early 2015.
Over two days I contacted each of these organizations to ask a simple question: Will they return Trump’s donations given the RNC chair’s demands regarding Harvey Weinstein? I even sent an email to the personal account of the head of the Congressional Leadership Fund, Norm Coleman, seeking a comment.
So what was the answer? The same one from each and every Republican: Silence.
Not one person returned my calls or emails. And it’s not that people didn’t receive my inquiries. For example, the person answering the phones at American Crossroads acknowledged that they had received my email questions the day before. Others confirmed when I followed up that they had given my message to the press person.
The most interesting response was from the Iowa GOP state headquarters. I had called the day before simply trying to speak to the media spokesperson, Carlos Cruz. But no return call so I called back and this time left the exact question with the person answering the phone about whether the Iowa GOP would be returning the money from Trump in light of his past sexual misconduct. The pause after I finished my question felt like eternity. That was followed by an, “Uh, O-kay… I’ll give him the message”
Did I actually expect that the Republican groups would return Trump’s money? Candidly, I had hoped at least one would consider doing that to send a message that as a nation we are taking a united, non-partisan stand against those who commit sexual assault. But that wasn’t happening.
What we did learn from all of this? Simple. Republicans will believe a woman who she says she is a victim of sexual assault as long as the person who commits the wrongdoing is a Democrat. But not if that person is the head of their own party.