Backlash

Top Democratic donor says she may withhold support from senators who pushed for Al Franken’s resignation

Susie Tompkins Buell in Bolinas, Calif. (Peter DaSilva/The New York Times)

Susie Tompkins Buell, who has donated millions of dollars to various Democratic causes since the 1990s, has said that she is reconsidering her support for senators who pushed Al Franken to resign.

At least eight women have accused Franken of sexual misconduct, and he officially stepped down from his post last week. Many of his colleagues, spurred by the efforts of female senators, had urged him to resign.

According to BuzzFeed News, Buell is troubled that Franken did not have the opportunity to present his side of the story to an Ethics Committee. She “described the push for Franken’s departure as “unfair,” “cavalier,” and “somewhat politically motivated,” the publication reports.

“These are senators that almost unanimously said he should have his opportunity to explain himself with the Ethics Committee,” Buell said. “Then, within hours of each other, they said he should resign. It was clearly, clearly highly organized.”

U.S. Senator Al Franken leaves after speaking to the media outside his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2017. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

For decades, Buell, founder of the clothing brand Esprit, has been a champion of the women in the Democratic party. She has supported Hillary Clinton and many other Democratic women, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and her PAC Off the Sidelines, which encourages women’s participation in politics. But BuzzFeed reports that Buell singled out Gillibrand, who led the campaign against Franken, when criticizing the circumstances of the disgraced senator’s resignation. Buell echoed that sentiment in a report by The New York Times, suggesting that Gillibrand may have damaged her political future in the process. “As for Gillibrand, unfortunately, I believe she miscalculated and has shot herself in the foot,” Buell observed. “I have supported her for many years. Will I going forward? To be determined.”

Buell did not specify how she plans to alter her financial support for certain political players. “I’m just taking a look at where I put my energy and money,” she said. “I won’t be doing it to the degree I did before. I’m just too upset and discouraged by the way they did this.” In the days leading up to Franken’s resignation, several Senate colleagues reportedly expressed regret at how quickly Franken was pushed to resign and a poll of Minnesota voters taken during the last week of 2017 found that the majority did not want the former SNL comedian to step down, a number that was bolstered by strong support from women voters. Franken was replaced by Minnesota’s Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, who will serve out the rest of his term.

Read the full story at BuzzFeed.

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