Independent presidential candidate Cornel West has responded to criticism of his campaign accepting a donation from a Republican billionaire who was recently exposed to have been lavishing a Supreme Court justice with gifts that have been compared to bribes.
Megadonor Harlan Crow contributed $3,300 to West’s campaign in August, NBC News reported on Wednesday. The donation was the maximum amount allowed under campaign finance laws.
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But the ensuing controversy has been more about the source of the contribution than the contribution itself since a bombshell investigative report by ProPublica in April revealed that Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas illegally accepted luxury gifts from Crow.
Without mentioning Thomas, West channeled his inner Shirley Chisholm by claiming he’s “unbought and unbossed” while defending accepting the donation from Crow.
“As an independent candidate and a free Black man, I accept donations within the limits of no PACs or corporate interest groups that have strings attached,” West said Thursday afternoon in a statement posted to his social media channels.
“I am unbought and unbossed,” West continued. “Despite my deep political differences with brother Harlan Crow (who is an anti-Trump Republican), I’ve known him in a non-political setting for some years and I pray for his precious family.”
West wondered why the energy behind the criticism of him accepting a donation from Crow hasn’t also been applied to politicians who “support the genocidal attack in Gaza.”
Conversely, Crow described West in a Wall Street Journal interview in April as “a good friend.”
Crow’s contribution in question came when West was campaigning for the Green Party’s presidential nomination.
Earlier this month, West announced he was leaving the Green Party to launch an independent presidential bid.
“People are hungry for change. They want good policies over partisan politics. We need to break the grip of the duopoly and give power to the people,” West, 70, wrote in a social media post accompanied by a 40-second video clip. “I’m running as an Independent candidate for President of the United States to end the iron grip of the ruling class and ensure true democracy!”
It was the second time West has changed his political affiliation since declaring his presidential candidacy in June.
Back then, West said he was running “for the People’s Party to reintroduce America to the best of itself – fighting to end poverty, mass incarceration, ending wars and ecological collapse, guaranteeing housing, health care, education and living wages for all!”
Not two weeks later, West announced that he was switching to the Green Party, a declaration that he said at the time was in “the spirit of a broad United Front and coalition strategy.”
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