A well-known, high dollar Democratic donor is considering cutting off lawmakers who encouraged recently retired Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to step down following multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
Susie Tompkins Buell has been one of the Democratic party’s most prominent donors for decades, making a point of backing female lawmakers, including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Maria Cantwell of Washington. Buell told The Washington Post that their contributions are now in jeopardy because she believes they were too hasty in publicly calling on fellow Democrat Franken to step down.
“In my gut they moved too fast,” she told WaPo via text message on Saturday, adding that Franken “was never given his chance to tell his side of the story.”
“For me this is dangerous and wrong,” she added. “I am a big believer in helping more women into the political system but this has given me an opportunity to rethink of how I can best help my party.”
Buell, the millionaire San Francisco founder of the clothing brand Espirit, first voiced her concerns about Franken’s resignation to BuzzFeed News.
“They need to know that some of their biggest supporters are questioning why they did that,” Buell told BuzzFeed. “We have to do things conscientiously and fairly. He didn’t have the chance to defend himself.”
She has “no personal relationship” with Franken, she added but respected his performance as a Senator and has contributed to him before.
Franken resigned Dec. 7, weeks after announcing he would do so because of allegations of sexual harassment, including forcible kissing and unwanted touching, brought by at least six women.
Asked about Gillibrand, who had a leading role in Franken’s ouster, Buell said the decision may cost her a relationship years in the making.
“As for Gillibrand, unfortunately, I believe she miscalculated and has shot herself in the foot,” she told WaPo. “I have supported her for many years. Will I going forward? To be determined.”
Buell’s comments are made all the more significant due to advocacy work she has done on behalf of President Donald Trump’s sexual harassment accusers. She reportedly donated $500,000 to help the accusers in 2016, though the money was never used and eventually returned.
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