When #MeToo Infamy Taints Your Famous Benefactor

Some organizations have lost donors because of their ties to celebrities accused of sexual misconduct, while others have relinquished gifts from those men.

Comments: 62

  1. Do you think that Corporations, now flush with cash from their tax cuts, will step up to fill this gap in philanthropy? Yeah, right.

  2. Well lets see, in 2017 Bill and Melinda Gates gave $4.6 Billion, the Zuckerbergs gave $1.9 Billion, Michael Dell gave $1Billion, Henry Hillman gave $800 million, Florence Irving gave $600 million... I could go on, but the list is very long.

  3. If you're willing to do 60 seconds of work on Google, you will see that corporations and their foundations have "stepped up" for decades with billions of dollars of charitable donations.

  4. So does that mean that nobody else should donate to good causes? Are any of those people announcing they will cease donating if a charity takes money from Harvey Weinstein or Louis CK?

  5. . Something is missing from this article that interests me, and possibly others. What does it do to income taxes when a host is returned? We can only assume that these $5 million donations are used as a tax deduction. A few years later, the donor I assume would need to amend his previous tax return. Is there now penalties for underreported income?? How DOES the IRS handle this spate of returned donations? Thanks for any comment that might answer that question! Susan

  6. It is either treated as income and you pay tax on it, or you just give it to another charity.

  7. There is nothing "tough" about it. Either accept donations from those who traffic in sexual abuse and therefore endorse that activity or reject it entirely.

  8. You must understand Prof. that "those who traffic in sexual abuse," is often completely subjective. Your definition would have helped, but only slightly, since no one else may agree with you. Black and white thinking, is the antithesis of intellectualism.

  9. The core question is to what extent harassment defines the essence of a person and taints all other accomplishments. If harassment is a voluntary mean-spirited act, the harasser should be thoroughly shunned. If it is a psychological aberration, and not voluntary, then the offense is largely out of the offender's control. If that's the case, condemnation is questionable at best. It comes down to whether the wrongdoing is a product of free will or of an involuntary psychological condition. I don't think there is a consensus on this matter. But I think there is probably a right answer. And that answer should guide public reaction.

  10. If you harass someone, just because you can, it says a great deal about your "essence" as you put it. Suffice it say, it is how we treat the most vulnerable among us that says the most about the kind of people we are.

  11. These individuals cited in the article, if the allegations are true, are acts of fundamental ethical failures. If a lawyer or doctor did the same a complaint would be made to the bar association or state medical board, respectively. After due process, the perpetrator more often than not is disciplined and is either disbarred or their license is revoked. Understand that these sins are often times criminal, most are not charged with crimes. "Me Too" has finally brought into focus the misdeeds of those who abuse power

  12. I agree. Every American is entitled to due process . However with Lawyers and Doctors most of the time something sticks and they are disciplined . That’s the reality

  13. You're not thinking of Lenny Lopate, are you?

  14. Who exactly is being helped by returning a school endowment? It's an empty symbolic gesture, keep it, help the people you can. You can still criticize bad behavior, and perhaps realize that the same person is capable of doing very good things and very bad things. The virtue signaling and holyer than thou attitude is helps no one.

  15. The statement that " the collateral damage is now clear" is dismissive and another round of victim blaming to all those who experienced this type of mistreatment. The" collateral damage" has always been clear to the millions who experienced it: assault, harassment, rape, threats, discrimination, careers or jobs lost. The "collateral damage" of having to maintain silence after any of the above, plus dealing with fear and economic damage is also shared by more millions: loved ones and families. This is a time of recalibration' I hope that these charities can find other funding.

  16. Thank you for calling out the collateral damage that we ought to focus on which is always forgotten: The women who after being harassed had their careers and livelihoods destroyed because they couldn't continue to work in that kind of environment. Considering how long this behavior has been going on, it should give us pause to consider the loss of this human capital instead of hand wringing for the "famous men" who have been punished for their own behavior.

  17. It seems to me that the METOO movement has elevated a new form of discrimination to respectability. People seem to want somebody to hate. It cannot be blacks or illegal immigrants or homosexuals. So feminists have settled on heterosexual men, particularly those who have extramarital affairs. Yes, when men sexually harass women they should be punished. But there should be an attempt to actually ascertain what happened instead of accepting every accusation on face value. Men have had their careers destroyed by vengeful women, who are often secure that their stories will never be checked, because what the men did was not illegal. It is the New Yorker and the NY Times which have been particularly active in spreading this hate speech. Lets face it. It sells newspapers. Bill Cosby goes on trial this week. But everybody already knows he is guilty. He is convicted by a confession that Bill Cosby mistakenly believed would prevent a criminal trial. But why should we treat the accused with honesty. If he did the crime, he deserves the time, forget whether the confession was achieved under false pretenses, or whether it furthered the career of a DA. Politics trumps justice. But as we embark on this road, reflect on how far it is from what the Bill of Rights envisioned: due process for the accused. In fact, in the 1950s the accused was granted a presumption of innocence in the interest of fairness. Feminists have brought down famous men but at what a cost.

  18. Do "blacks, homosexuals, or illegal immigrants particularly harass and discriminate against women? Should they be targeted? You won't catch me crying for Bill Cosby--why is he deserving of anyone's sympathy? He's guilty! In reports of a wide range, the rate of false reporting is typically around 2-3%, the same rate for all felonies. The worst report shows a rate of false reporting around 8%. So using the most generous stats, if a woman accusing a man of sexual harassment, there is probably a 92% chance or greater she is telling the truth! To read your comment, you'd think that most accusations are false. They most definitely are NOT. The fact is that the system fails to get justice when it is even open to women. Usually it isn't. The result is that men are protected no matter what. Look at the slap on the wrist that Brock Turner got compared to his crimes which were WITNESSED with massive amounts of physical evidence. The scales of justice are rigged and coming out in the media is the only avenue of justice for many harassed women. Maybe NOW these pigs will buzz off. The cold hard fact is that unless you have a camera on you at all times (illegal in some jurisdictions) or happened to have witnesses (which the abuser makes sure they aren't around), there is no chance of justice because its rigged that way. My sympathy is for the bright minds and careers stopped because of cretins like these--the women who have lost their livelihood and humanity has lost their gifts.

  19. Not sure “what a cost” means here. Are you referring to the future inability of powerful men to sexually harass women who work with or for them? Or is it the awkward loss of money for worthy causes that were funded by men who liked to expose themselves? Also not sure why you think exposing one’s penis is not illegal- just because you are in an office or a hotel room, it’s no less illegal than if it is in the street. I understand that maybe you think grabbing the crotch of a workmate may not be a “crime”. I can only assume it happens to you at work all the time and it doesn’t bother you at all, otherwise why would you write this oblivious letter...

  20. Keep the money, strip the name of the endowment, building, etc

  21. Unfortunately, "gifts" usually come with very specific instructions. I put "gift" in quotes because typically, a gift is a gift is a gift - something given without the expectation of something in return. But we know that a lot of these charities aren't those - and that with many of these "gifts," something is definitely expected in return.

  22. If the gift is conditional and the conditions are unacceptable, turn it down. But to refuse the money because the person is objectionable... whatever happened to hate the sin and love the sinner?

  23. Unless the donated money came from ill-means (stolen, tax evasion, etc.), I see no reason to return it. Accepting future donations and rescinding honors is another discussion.

  24. “If we accept these dollars for this scholarship, is that going to offend donors for these other scholarships?” Unfortunately yes because in many cases accepting those dollars is allowing yourself to be used to whitewash an unsavory individual. Look no further than Lance Armstrong who cynically wrapped himself in the fight against cancer as a shield from questions about if his athletic achievements were based on cheating.

  25. Understanding that the #MeToo movement began in no small part because women found other avenues to justice--corporate grievance procedures, the legal system--were unresponsive, rendering every accusation into conviction is to abandon the whole idea of this being a nation of laws. An accusation is an aggressive act, and there is always the possibility, even if several women accuse the same man, the man accused is innocent, or substantially innocent. "Bearing false witness" is a substantial transgression Painful as it may be for the accuser, her testimony must be examined, questioned or we have abandoned the idea of a just society to the tumbrils of revolution and the nightmare of McCarthyism. To suggest women may be lying, or even misapprehended some man's comments, is not to vilify the woman, and it does not make her a victim. Anita Hill notwithstanding, if a woman is strong enough to accuse, she has to be strong enough to answer questions.

  26. To the fullest extent practicable, charities should keep the donations and rename buildings, programs and endowed chairs. Returning the money and/or shutting down programs accomplishes nothing— although the branding of such programs must indeed be changed.

  27. The concern is giving to a charity, which while it may do meaningful work, may enable an abuser to redeem his reputation while continuing to be an abuser. Any celeb with a charity should 1) scrub their name from it...in fact, don't name a charity after yourself in the first place, 2) step down from any boards or executive roles, and 3) commit to total transparency how funds are used (not going to pay off victims). Then its reasonable to hope for continued support. Otherwise, there are other causes.

  28. High profile donations with your name attached Sexual harassment. It all has the same root - a desire for status, power and control. Nothing charitable about it.

  29. Time to resurrect “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone”?

  30. Yes it is a shame that many organizations that did good can no longer do that good because their founder has been revealed to be a scoundrel, a crook or a rapist. What is worse is that many men in power have abused that power for decades causing great harm to women. I wonder about the lives, the careers, the art these women would have created if not for being harassed or raped. Here in Palm Beach, several charities never recovered after Madoff, since many were funded by "investments" that didn't exist or many had their money "invested" with him. No one suggested that the charities should get to keep money stolen from others, and no one should suggest that charities run by rapists get to keep raising money.

  31. Re: Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation (Russell Simmons), Kevin Spacey Foundation (Kevin Spacey), USC (Harvey Weinstein,) Spelman College (Bill Cosby). As a rape survivor, I will never in any way support institutions that have ties - academic, financial or otherwise - with people against whom there are multiple accusations of rape (in the cases of Simmons, Weinstein, Spacey and Cosby - the accusations against each man number in the dozens...). Yeah, unfair if they haven't been convicted. Yeah, tough for the people who once benefited from the charitable giving of these men. Yeah, a shame when decent institutions like USC and Spelman College are dragged into the mud through association with violent criminal benefactors. But it's my life, lived for decades as someone recovering from sexual assault. I decide whether to support your, cut your institution some slack, listen to your institution's explanations about these messes. My decision is: NO.

  32. How far do we take the guilt by association? If there were an organization that provided support and counseling for rape survivors, but that accepted donations from tobacco companies, would you accept their services?

  33. eloquent, honest, true. thank you.

  34. I understand your concern, but the issue is that the four men you chose are famous. What if an institution you admire or do business with has ties with a rapists that isn't famous? Also does you ire extend to the dead? Because there are a lot of institutions that are named after people who historically committed sexual assaults against women (i.e. Thomas Jefferson).

  35. I assume the benefactors could give anonymously. No?

  36. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is the greatest #MeToo hypocrite. The tobacco industry, which causes 400,000 deaths a year, has always exploited feminism. Ms. magazine had 8-10 pages of cigarette ads every issue. Gillibrand started her legal career working for Philip Morris, helping them to conceal evidence of the harms of cigarettes. She took at least $23,000 in campaign contributions from them. She forced Al Franken to resign from the Senate for allegedly putting his had on the behind of six women (who were rounded up by Fox News). Gillibrand herself was working for an industry that kills 400,000 people a year, half of them women. Who would you rather have in the Senate -- a man who put his hand on your behind? Or a woman who helped to kill you, your parents, and grandparents with heart attacks, strokes and cancer?

  37. I think in a number of cases, the funds won't be there afterwards anyway--after all the lawsuits are settled and the income pipeline has disappeared, I imagine Weinstein doesn't think he can continue giving $ away.

  38. I think the problem is best explained by this "throwing the baby out with the bath water". C'est la vie. ACCUSATIONS are not proof, and when everybody demanded blood, you got what you got. A harmless pat on the A got a lot of guys in trouble, the women having waited in some cases 30 or 40 years to mention it----after their career and life was mostly over. While a lot of men obviously GOT WHAT THEY DESERVED, many got the boot on hearsay and much less. At the moment I have severe donor burnout so don't look to me. I'm just supporting Ms Daniels and Mr McCabe with what little money I have.

  39. Still worried that the media are acting as the judge here. The word "alleged' still appears. And to be strict and ethical etc.. about the donations: all should be returned. There will always be someone offed by something. On the way to the top with success and money, there is always some damage. Some guy gave a wife a really bad divorce settlement yet gave X millions to an alma mater, Bill Gates underpaid and ruined some small tech company in the 80s, family lost their house etc...yet the Foundation gives billions... Bottom line: the more you dig, the more dirt you will find that will offend someone. The holier than thou approach will backfire.

  40. When you target one person for his bad behavior, you hurt THOUSANDS who have not done anything wrong. #MeToo Not.

  41. This article is important and interesting. But I think the real question that should be asked is why so much money is allowed to pass through the hands of abusers? Sure they may give some of their money to worthy causes, but we also know that many have used their money and influence to cover up their crimes

  42. Understand that the causes these men represented actually did good work. As awful as Kevin Spacey's accusations are, it was intriguing to see on Twitter how many artists in the UK were sad to see the organization close. Many artists, particularly poorer artists, benefited from the foundation in the past. If there aren't other organizations providing the same types of programs & benefits, people and money will flock towards foundations like this. You also have to understand that these men didn't spend every minute of their day being predators. They actually believe in good acts like reducing poverty, providing college scholarships, advocating for the arts, etc. The difference between them and us is that they greatly compartmentalize their lives. In their minds, their secrets have nothing to do with their public works.

  43. Here is a topic I would love to see the press and sociologists address: What was the statistical influence of abusers on the last Presidential election? At work there are TV's going all the time and when MeToo pieces have appeared on a news channel, I have seen groups of certain men congregating in front of them muttering to each other with scowls on their faces. I have been surprised both by how overt they are now and at the same time how insecure. We have learned through all this how widespread the abuse of women is, which means the abuser class is large too, and apparently many of the members of this class were politically active in the last election and voted, but I haven't seen any surveys or studies about the exact impact they had. It's nice to cover what the concerns of the working class were, or women, or whites, or LGBT, or rural residents, or gun advocates with respect to how this election turned out, but I think we are missing a really important element if we aren't also now specifically studying the impact of the rapist class, and the harasser class, on what happened. We should try to know what percentage of the electorate voted against Hillary specifically to protect and preserve their ability to continue abusing women with relative impunity. That would be at least as important a piece of information to me in understanding all of this as anything else.

  44. Since huge amounts of poltical giving are now done under 501(c)3, for example Bloomberg's gun control groups take in the vast majority of their money with c3 donations, and Bloomberg himself gives mostly to them as c3, and since that in turn was 100% partisan, we could start there. Mike Bloomberg definitely fits the abusive class. New York Magazine had an interesting piece on how during #metoo no other person's toxic personal record as well as corporate record in the corporation they head has been more ignored by the press than Bloomberg

  45. It's not just the tainted who are not giving. The boards of directors who accept millions from the Kochs and Mercers have turned down contributions from people who are accused of "harassment" but never have the opportunity to defend themselves. Garrison Keillor, who has enabled APR, NPR, MPR and countless unknown performers, both male and female, to perform publicly and to become known to American audiences, was accused of harassment in what appears to be a revenge plot of Iago-esque proportions and the CEO of MPR and its Board have not only severed their ties to the one man who brought them national success but have decided to never again broadcast his work as a performing artist. Many "untainted" donors who have supported Public Radio are finding other places to make contributions this year. And Senator Al Franken, who has done so much for our country. its troops, the citizens of Minnesota, and many Democrats who were running for office, was brought down by accusation of a former playmate who it is rumored to have been coached by the trickster himself, Roger Stone. None of the other anonymous claims of groping were ever substantiated. Let the punishment fit the crime. And if a crime has been committed, bring a legal action. Anyone who has ever had a teenage child or been a teenager him or herself knows that "lying" is not confined to only the males of our species.

  46. People don't realize how much good Franken did, and how much harm Gillibrand did by forcing him out. Al Franken saved most of us 5% or more on their health insurance premiums. When you buy health insurance, the insurance company takes a part of your premium for administrative costs and profits. For Medicare, it's 3%. For private insurance, it used to be 20% or more. Franken added an amendment to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that would limit the amount an insurance company takes to 15%. What has Gillibrand ever done for us to match that benefit?

  47. According to Keillor's attorney, the woman who accused him is seeking a financial settlement in the "high six figures" from Keillor and his production company. http://www.startribune.com/keillor-shares-hundreds-of-e-mails-asserts-it...

  48. The personal foundations of celebrities are dependent on the good name of their founder for a reason: they elevate his or her reputation and provide a plump tax shelter as well. There are many charities that aid young artists of color and young performers. There are many sources of endowment money for universities (or rather: not every professorship needs to be protected by its own endowment). If Mr. Meier really cared about architecture education at Cornell, he could donate the money anonymously. Mr. Spacey and Mr. Simmons could merge their projects with other existing foundations, turning their assets over to projects not associated with their own glory. The fact that they don't do so, and are willing to see the charities simply close down, tells me all I need to know about their motives.

  49. I don't know enough about the Russell Simmons charity, but I do know a bit about Kevin Spacey's charity. The Kevin Spacey Foundation had two divisions, US and UK. The division in the UK closed at the end of February. I did some research and realized that Mr. Spacey actually didn't run that division of the foundation. He was only on the Board. The charity removed him from the Board in November 2017. The remaining Board members decided to close it this year. Its also worth noting that foundations & charities are not easy to run. Fund raising is strenuous even with a celebrity name attached and programming requires dedicated personnel. Unless an organization has people behind it that have the wherewithal to operate such a venture, most of these organizations will collapse.

  50. A Kevin Spacey Foundation with no Kevin Spacey has no foundation.

  51. I don't understand the policy of turning down money from people who have been accused or even convicted of wrong doing. I can understand turning down money that was earned through crime or through the sale of a product like tobacco. But whatever abuses these men committed, it was not the source of their money. I can also see accepting money but refusing to honor them for the contribution, but turning down money for a good cause? Why? And why would a donor who cares about a charity insist that the charity turn down money. It's all a bit holier-than-though.

  52. If you want to donate and your famous name is mud, there are still ways to donate. Set up a private foundation, donate anonymously, get someone else to donate for you. You can set all this up with the help of a good attorney. You won't get the publicity or the attention, but the cause or the institution you want to support will get the money it needs or deserves.

  53. Humans tend to default to generalities. Such unfortunate collateral damage that these philanthropic organizations suffer.

  54. I have mixed feelings about this issue. On one hand, we ARE judged by the company we keep, and there are the old sayings about "birds of a feather flock together" and "lie down with dogs and you get fleas". On the other hand, charitable organizations that fill in the gaps where government does not take care of its citizens are critical, especially in these times of economic disparity. I remember a nun from a Catholic charity responding to a question about donations for a home for unwed mothers from a brothel, She said (paraphrasing here) that the contribution helped those in need, and was not a judgement on those who gave it. So basically, unless the money itself is tainted (stolen, counterfeit, or laundered), the charity should have no qualms about accepting the donation. The bad acts of people are seldom the whole of who they are. And if the donation does good, leave the money where it is, and condemn the actions of the person who fell from grace.

  55. Hey NYT, paying member here, are you guys planning on doing articles about the sad it is when people have to return donations and fire people accused or convicted of murder? burglary? fraud? This is little more than a hamhanded attempt to blame victim of sexual violence. what happens when someone who like is accused? you should react as you would if it were any other life altering crime: not by blaming the victim.

  56. not #metoo but similar - when cyclist Lance Armstrong finally admitted to drug use his Livestrong Foundation had to distance itself from him.

  57. The kids are sacrificial lambs at the alter of political correctness. They can join the multitude of white males who were sacrificed earlier. The only good news is that being so victimized will inevitably lead them to vote Republican.

  58. Here's a thought : Give to Charity's and Foundations led by Women.

  59. The can of worms that the NYT actively promoted failed to realize that there is a limit that needs to be applied to accusations. There's common sense and intelligence, qualities that were left in the dust in the rush to accuse those who were really sexual predators and those who were simply doing what men and women have done for the last few millenia. Now the other edge of the sword starts to cut. It's a peculiarly American problem, sex. I've lived in a lot of places on 3 continents and nowhere does the American inability to live with sexuality exist like this. There are more extreme rules, as in Islamic countries, and more open ones as in Scandanavia. But the difference is that elsewhere the rules are the rules and men and women know what the boundaries are. Here, a Weinstein appears and suddenly the rules of all of Life are supposed to change. Everyone becomes a victim. The judge becomes the jury. Common sense and thoughtful resolution are replaced by shrill screams and lawsuits demanding money, money. It would be bad enough if this only applied to sexual mores, but the reality is that that has become the American Way - and it has reached a peak that is destructive in many areas, Our economy, our democracy, and our system of choosing leadership included. Responsibility is a dead duck. You sow it, you reap it.

  60. You mean all those rules written by men? We're no longer playing by that particular rule book. Learn it and deal with it.

  61. It's probably a very naive question, but why did Kevin Spacey's foundation have to shut its doors? Once you get rid of the offender, why can't you rename it and get someone to take over who isn't tainted--most likely a woman, I suppose, but if you seriously vet someone else, I don't see why it can't continue. The only thing I can think of is that someone in the organization knew what was going on and allowed it to continue for a long time. Still, if you get rid of the offender(s), why not reorganize and make it an excellent, sexual offender-free, foundation?

  62. Buried at the bottom of the article is the information that "in terms of dollars and cents, [#metoo has created a] net gain." This means that the abused and their supporters are donating more money than the accused and convicted whose money is being turned down. As (or if) institutions continue not to make deals with devils, those who have been forcibly held back from even earning money will rise up to take the devils' places. Remove Weinstein and those of his ilk, and the future will show us that women are just as philanthropic as rich men.