ALBANY Gov. Cuomo Thursday defended only giving away a portion of the campaign donations he received from embattled Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Returning Weinsteins donations, Cuomo said, is a symbol, but politicians would be better to support pro-women legislation.
Getting into a tiff about Harvey Weinsteins money sort of misses the point, he told reporters following an unrelated Long Island event Thursday morning.
Cuomos campaign last week announced the governor would return $50,000 he received from Weinstein, but not the more than $61,000 given during his previous campaigns for governor and attorney general dating to 2006.
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We returned the money Harvey donated to my (2018) gubernatorial campaign, Cuomo said. Obviously money he donated to past campaigns has been spent and has been gone.
Cuomo, who reported in July having nearly $26 million in his campaign coffers, called his return of the $50,000 the right symbol.
But I think we also have to keep focus on the issue as opposed to the symbol, he said. The issue is the protection of women and the respect for women and taking action to stop discrimination and assault. Thats what this is really about. Its bigger than Harvey Weinstein.
Rather than focus on Weinstein and his donations, the governor said that politicians should be asked whether they support legislation that would protect womens reproductive rights, address discrimination against women and stop college campus sexual assaults.
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Those are the questions that should be asked of these politicians, Cuomo said. Theyd rather talk about Harvey Weinstein rather than talk about themselves.
State Republican Party spokeswoman Jessica Proud took Cuomo to task Wednesday for being the only New York Democrat to not donate to womens causes the full amount of money he received from Weinstein.
Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, and Corey Booker of New Jersey, are among those who promised to donate Weinstein donations they have received to womens causes.
Democrats across the country have had the sense to give the money back, but not Gov. Cuomo, Proud said. What kind of message does it send to women and victims that despite everything we know about the abuse Harvey Weinstein inflicted on them, he still won’t let go of his $60,000? His actions speak volumes.”
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America Rising PAC, which has targeted Cuomo, said anything short of Cuomo donating all the money he received from Weinstein is damningly insufficient.
Asked generally about Weinstein donations, frequent Cuomo foe and fellow Democrat Mayor de Blasio said Thursday, “Give that money back. Give it to charity. Get the hell away from it. No one in their right mind should be keeping it.”
Other Democrats privately questioned why Cuomo wouldnt just donate all the money he received from Weinstein.
One Democratic insider called the additional $61,000 a drop in the bucket for Cuomo that would allow him to avoid a potential political headache.
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He says its a symbol, but symbols matter in politics, the Dem said.
Cuomo campaign chairman Bill Mulrow said on Friday that Cuomo would donate the $50,000 he received from Weinstein for his upcoming 2018 campaign to a yet-to-be-determined womens rights group.
“These allegations are horrid and disturbing sexual harassment and abuse have no place in our society,” Mulrow said. With Jillian Jorgensen