TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The Democratic candidate in New Jersey’s governor’s race on Tuesday said he didn’t take a “dime” from disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and called on Democrats around the country to return any money they’ve received from him.
Phil Murphy said he has not received any contributions from Weinstein.
“I didn’t ask for and I didn’t get one dime from this guy,” Murphy said Tuesday night during his first debate with Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in the contest to succeed Gov. Chris Christie, also a Republican. “What he’s done is completely outrageous and heinous.”
He urged Democrats to return any money received from Weinstein and said he canceled “something” that had been set up with Weinstein after he learned a dozen women had accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault.
Murphy’s comment came after Guadagno called on him to speak out against Weinstein. The latest avalanche of allegations poured out Tuesday, including on-the-record reports that detailed claims of sexual abuse.
At the debate, Guadagno attacked Murphy because he weighed in on Weinstein only after her campaign accused Murphy of taking cash from Weinstein.
“I want to call Phil Murphy a coward,” she said.
Murphy didn’t directly address the attack Tuesday.
Murphy is a former Obama administration ambassador to Germany and is former finance chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Weinstein and his family have given more than $1.4 million in political donations since 1992, virtually all of it to Democratic lawmakers, candidates and their allies, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Some of that money went to the DNC while Murphy served as finance chair.
When Guadagno brought that up on Tuesday, Murphy said he didn’t know what she was talking about.
It remains to be seen whether Weinstein will become an issue the Nov. 7 election. Murphy leads Guadagno in the polls.
The DNC said last week that it plans to donate the money Weinstein himself donated to the party during the 2016 campaign to groups that work to elect women to office. Other Democratic lawmakers who have received money from him have also announced they’re donating money to charities supporting women.
The Democratic Governors Association, which is funding TV ads to help Murphy in New Jersey, said it hasn’t gotten any donations from Weinstein, according to spokesman Jared Leopold.
Weinstein’s contributions are tiny compared with those who donate tens of millions of dollars during a two-year election cycle, easily leaving him out of the top 100 funders, the center’s figures show. But he’s been a fixture among Democratic supporters and close to party luminaries for decades.
The party’s effort to distance itself from the 65-year-old film executive came after The New York Times reported that he settled sexual harassment lawsuits with at least eight women.
Three women accused Weinstein of raping them in a story published online Tuesday by The New Yorker, including the Italian actress Asia Argento and a woman who was an aspiring actress in college when she caught Weinstein’s eye. A representative for the mogul vehemently denied the allegations in a statement to the magazine.
The New Yorker quoted Weinstein representative Sallie Hofmeister responding that “any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”
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