Gov. Andrew Cuomo now says he’s returning all of the money donated to his campaign from disgraced film executive Harvey Weinstein.
Cuomo initially returned $50,000 donated from Weinstein to the governor’s 2018 reelection campaign. The governor said he’d already spent over $60,000 that the politically liberal movie mogul had donated to previous campaigns, and so could not give it back.
Weinstein is accused of sexually harassing and raping women. Weinstein has denied the charges, though he’s admitted he has a problem and is seeking help.
Cuomo was heavily criticized on social media and by right leaning media outlets for keeping the money, and by Thursday evening, a spokesman for his campaign said that the money will be donated to groups that benefit women.
Cuomo has a more than $20 million campaign fund.
Basil Smikle, executive director for the state Democratic Party, described the step as “extraordinary”, although several other Democratic politicians have also returned or donated the total amount they’d received from Weinstein over the past several years.
The governor said earlier Thursday that the more important question is whether he’s acted while in office to protect women and fight against sexual assault and harassment, and he says his record shows that he has.
Smikle, who called the allegations against Weinstein “disturbing” and “horrid”, said he hopes the debate will now shift on what can be done to root out “this reprehensible behavior”.