Last year, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was one of the few powerful Democrats to say that Senator Al Franken should resign amid allegations that he groped eight women. A report from HuffPost details the backlash that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is now facing after her decision to speak out.
Billionaire Democratic donor George Soros expressed his discontentment with Gillibrand for her decision to highlight Franken’s behavior (and her statement that former president Bill Clinton should have resigned following the Monica Lewinsky scandal). Soros recently said he wouldn’t support Gillibrand as a presidential nominee for 2020, and accused her of targeting Franken in order to “improve her chances” to win the office.
But as HuffPost’s piece shows, Gillibrand’s decision to speak out on Franken has almost certainly lessened her chances of successfully running for president.
“I viewed it as self-serving, as opportunistic ― unforgivable in my view,” said Rosalind Fink, a New York donor. “Since then, I have not purposely attended any fundraiser where she was there. And there is absolutely no way I will support her.”
Fink said she condemned Franken’s behavior, but she believed the Senate should have investigated the allegations thoroughly before forcing him out.
“I think it was a big mistake,” said Irene Finel Honigman, another Clinton donor from New York, adding, “I was not that impressed with her to begin with. I think she certainly had potential, but as for many people, this kind of sealed the deal.”
Another donor, who like many others asked to remain anonymous in order to speak candidly, called Gillibrand a “ruthless opportunist.”
Incredible how these “self-serving,” “ruthless[ly] opportunist” actions have alienated so many potential donors!
Not everyone is too blinded by their devotion to Franken to see that perhaps calling out misogyny and abuse on all sides is a good thing.
“Why are we blaming Sen. Gillibrand for what Sen. Franken did?” asked Risa Levine, a New York donor who is friends with the senator. “Why are we making this about her? It’s not about her.”
“She’s not the one who put her hand on all those women’s asses and boobs. She didn’t do that,” added another donor. “Why does she have to sacrifice her career, her brand, her authenticity, for the sake of Franken?” [...]
“She’s either a shrew with no power who’s just trying to make a name for herself, or she’s so all-powerful that her saying one thing made a man who has made decisions for himself for 60 years crumble like a cheap suit,” said a Democratic activist, summing up the way Gillibrand has been characterized.
There’s nothing new about this story. For ages, women who point out abuse have been accused of seeking attention or power, despite the fact that this is almost never the result. Instead, the powers that be generally come together to stamp out their credibility and ostracize them, protecting the powerful men who would like to keep groping as many people as they please without facing consequences.
If we are going to take sexual harassment seriously, our attacks on it can not be solely politically motivated. When we say that a Senator like Franken is “too important” to be taken down by allegations like this, what we’re really saying is that the women he harmed are worthless. If that’s what counts as a progressive value, then we’re really screwed.
CORRECTION: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s name was misspelled in the original version of this article. We regret the error.