Esprit Clothing founder Susie Tompkins Buell provided $500,000 to a campaign to fund women accusing then-candidate Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, according to a Sunday New York Times report.
The funds did not bring any new accusers into public view.
Buell, an affluent Clinton supporter, provided the money to publicity-conscious lawyer Lisa Bloom who was actively seeking Trump accusers during the 2016 presidential election campaign. The Times reports that Bloom raised money for her legal campaign by telling donors that their money would be used to help allegedly affected women “find the courage to speak out” by providing them with a “safe house.”
According to the Times story, Bloom admitted that the money she raised did not bring any results: one woman asked for $2 million but then reneged on making an accusation. The cash wasn’t used to assist any other women make a sexual harassment or assault claim either.
Bloom says she gave most of the money back to the wealthy anti-Trumpers, who included not only Buell but also David Brock, who came up with $200,000 for the cause. Bloom retained funds which she says were used for legal and related expenses.
Bloom claims she did not reveal her plan to Hillary Clinton or her campaign nor did she use the money to attract potential accusers — only as a potential resource for those she had already vetted.
“It doesn’t cost anything to publicly air allegations,” Bloom told the Times. “Security and relocation are expensive and were sorely needed in a case of this magnitude, in a country filled with so much anger, hate and violence.”
The Times article reports that two unnamed Democratic operatives told the paper of Bloom’s fundraising efforts, confirming that the lawyer gave back the money to Buell but retained the funds Brock donated through a nonprofit he was associated with.
Brock would not confirm or deny the report, when asked by the Times, while the Clinton campaign claimed ignorance of Bloom’s efforts.
Buell had nothing to say about the scheme either, but noted her dismay that Trump had avoided being sunk by a raft of sexual misconduct allegations, as so many leading figures of entertainment, politics and the media have been.