Bill and Hillary Clinton have said they won’t endorse a candidate in New York City’s mayoral election this year. But several members of their fundraising network have contributed to former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s bid for City Hall—apparently at the request of his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The Wall Street Journal reports that much of the $800,000 Weiner raised in the past two months came from donors who have also given big money to the Clintons. Just under $150,000 were donations directly solicited by Abedin, who was listed as a bundler in Weiner’s campaign finance report filed on Monday.
Some of that money appears to have been raised at a “Women for Anthony” event Abedin hosted last month in Manhattan.
The event’s host committee was packed with longtime supporters of the Clintons, including Cheryl Saban, wife of entertainment mogul and Democratic megadonor Haim Saban; Boston philanthropist Elaine Schuster; and Ann Tenenbaum, a longtime Clinton donor who has previously hosted the former first family at her home in the Hamptons.
Other hosts included designer Reem Acra; Rory Tahari, wife of designer Elie Tahari; and Binta Brown, who was a foreign policy adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
While the female-centric event was closed to the press, the fundraiser was Abedin’s unofficial debut as a campaign spouse—and was widely interpreted as a signal to female voters that if she can forgive her husband for the sexting scandal that led to his resignation from Congress two years ago, the public should, too.
But it’s still unclear if the women who wrote a check for Weiner’s campaign did so because they believe he’ll be a good mayor or if they were doing so because of their ties to Abedin and the Clintons.
Yahoo News reached out to all of the women listed as hosts for the “Women for Anthony” event, and most did not respond or declined to comment.
Abedin, who typically shuns the public eye, made her public debut on the campaign trail on Sunday, accompanying her husband as he greeted voters at a street fair in Harlem. Her rising profile comes as a Quinnipiac Poll found Weiner running neck and neck with mayoral rival Christine Quinn when it comes to support among female voters.
According to the poll, 23 percent of female voters polled back Quinn, the City Council speaker, compared with 21 percent for Weiner—results that are within the margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
Asked about their personal opinion of Weiner, female voters were split: 40 percent said they held an “unfavorable” view, compared with 37 percent who said they view Weiner “favorably.” Quinn, who is running to be the city’s first gay and first female mayor, fares better: 41 percent view her favorably, compared with 31 percent unfavorably.
With Weiner’s rising support in the polls, a large unknown heading into September’s Democratic primary is whether his rivals will make the sexting scandal a major issue in the campaign. Last week, Quinn, who has been mostly quiet about Weiner’s past drama, suggested she’s willing to go there. She linked her rival to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned from office after he admitted soliciting prostitutes and launched a surprise bid for city comptroller last week.
Quinn said neither man deserves the “second chance” they are seeking from New York voters at an event that was clearly aimed at solidifying support among female voters.
Weiner did not respond directly to Quinn’s comments—saying through a spokeswoman that he’s focused on the “real issues” in the race. But Abedin joined her husband on the campaign trail days later and told reporters the public would see more of her in coming months.
“I prefer to be a private person,” Abedin told Politicker’s Jill Colvin. But, she added, “I’m happy to support him. I think he’ll be a great mayor. And I’m having fun doing it.”