Top Dem donor says Gillibrand 'stained' reputation with Franken's ousting

Top Dem donor says Gillibrand 'stained' reputation with Franken's ousting
© Anna Moneymaker

A top Democratic fundraiser is slamming Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Suburban moms are going to decide the 2020 election Jon Stewart urges Congress to help veterans exposed to burn pits MORE (D-N.Y.) for her role in Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP Senate candidate says Trump, Republicans will surprise in Minnesota Peterson faces fight of his career in deep-red Minnesota district Getting tight — the psychology of cancel culture MORE's (D-Minn.) resignation from the Senate over sexual harassment allegations.

The donor, Susie Tompkins Buell, told Politico that Gillibrand's push for Franken to leave after allegations emerged of his sexual misconduct, including a photo of him pretending to grope a sleeping woman, "stained [Gillibrand's] reputation as a fair player."

The comments were made as part of a piece by Politico on how Gillibrand's actions toward Franken may have hurt her with some Democratic donors ahead of a possible presidential run in 2020.


Gillibrand was the first Democratic female senator to release a statement saying that Franken should resign. It was immediately followed by statements from her supporters, and came after furious discussions among Democratic senators over how to handle Franken.

Since the episode, some donors and other Democrats frustrated over the treatment of Franken have focused their ire on Gillibrand, a point Buell made in her interview with Politico.

“I do hear people refer to Kirsten Gillibrand as ‘opportunistic’ and shrewd at the expense of others to advance herself and it seems to have been demonstrated in her rapid treatment of her colleague Al Franken,” she said.

“I heard her referred to as ‘she would eat her own’ and she seems to have demonstrated that. I know [Gillibrand] thought she was doing the right thing but I think she will be remembered by this rush to judgment," Buell said. "I have heard some of her women colleagues regret joining her.”

Gillibrand's office pointed The Hill to comments her spokesman made to Politico, defending her actions.

"Leadership means standing up for your values when it's hard. Kirsten has never been afraid to stand up for what she believes in and never will be," Gillibrand spokesman Glen Caplin told the news outlet in a statement. "You can disagree with her views, but holding her accountable for someone else's behavior towards women is wrong, and her values aren't for sale."

Gillibrand tweeted laster on Monday, in response to the Politico story.

"Silencing women for the powerful, or for your friends, or forconvenience, is neither acceptable, nor just," she wrote. 


Buell wasn't the only donor to criticized Gillibrand over the issue, underlining the possibility it has hurt her with a segment of the Democratic donor class.

Another major donor told Politico that people were suspicious that Gillibrand's move was a political gambit.

"I thought she was duplicitous,” the donor said. “Once the whole thing happened with Al Franken, it was confirmed 1 billion percent that she’s not to be trusted."

"I think that she hurt the Democratic Party," the donor said. "I think that she hurt the Senate. I think that what she did for women in politics was dreadful.”

Some of the criticism also highlights the fond feelings for Franken among many Democrats. During the confirmation hearings over Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Tumultuous court battle upends fight for Senate Fox's Napolitano: Supreme Court confirmation hearings will be 'World War III of political battles' MORE, there were regrets that the ex-Minnesota senator was not around.

"He was one of our best weapons against this administration, his presence on these committees. [Gillibrand] did the damage that Republicans could not do themselves," one person who attended a small donors event in support of Franken after his resignation said.

--Updated at 4:23 p.m.