Franken Backlash: Democrat Donors Still Haven’t Forgiven 2020 Hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand

As former Sen. Al Franken’s groping scandal became national headlines last year, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand jumped at the chance to call for his resignation — something Democratic donors have yet to forgive her for.

Gillibrand, a prominent Democrat from New York who has hinted at a potential 2020 presidential bid, led the charge against Franken last year as the first Democratic voice to publicly urge Franken to resign. Gillibrand took to Facebook to tell Franken “enough is enough” and called for him to step down even before the completion of a formal ethics review.

“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” Gillibrand wrote on Facebook.

While several other senators joined Gillibrand’s call, Democratic donors saw the New York senator as an opportunist that took Franken down for her own benefit. And they aren’t forgiving her any time soon.

According to a Politico report, more than a dozen prominent Democratic donors said “they would never again donate to or fundraise for Gillibrand or would do so only if she ended up as the Democratic presidential nominee.”

One donor told Politico that Franken was “one of our best weapons against this administration” and that Gillibrand “did the damage that Republicans could not do themselves.”

Another donor, who is a part of the elite “Majority Trust” of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, refuses to donate to or even vote for Gillibrand again.

“I could stay on the phone all afternoon talking about this,” the donor told Politico. “Let me tell you how strongly I felt about it — I didn’t even vote for her in the recent election. I left it blank.”

This is not the first time the donor-class has expressed its disapproval for Gillibrand’s handling of Franken’s groping scandal. In June, Democratic megadonor George Soros told the Washington Post that he hopes Gillibrand does not become the Democratic nominee in 2020. According to the Washington Post article, Soros believes Gillibrand went after Franken, who Soros says he admires, to better her own chances in 2020.

Gillibrand reacted to the Politico report on Twitter, writing that “silencing women for the powerful, or for your friends, or for convenience, is neither acceptable, nor just.”

While the donor-class may not be fond of Gillibrand, the senator won reelection easily, receiving over two-thirds of the vote. However, major donors may have more weight going into the 2020 primaries, and it remains to be seen if the backlash will impact Gillibrand’s presidential dreams.

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Christine Bauman