As he struggles to find traction in a Democratic primary for president that isn’t currently much of a contest, Rep. Dean Phillips is trying to turn the page on a story that has plagued him from the very first minutes his campaign officially existed.
On the day that Phillips announced for president, The Daily Beast reported that Phillips took a $2,800 donation in 2019 from conservative billionaire Harlan Crow—the very same billionaire whose financial gifts and ties to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas led to the court adopting its first ethics code two weeks ago.
As he signed paperwork to get himself on the New Hampshire primary ballot, Phillips denied soliciting the donation in an exchange with The Daily Beast. But that apparently hasn’t stopped the donation from becoming an issue. In an effort to put the story behind him, Phillips announced late Sunday night that he was donating $2,800 to a Minnesota charity.
“With countless Minnesotans living paycheck to paycheck and unable to afford groceries, I sent $2,800 to [Second Harvest Heartland] so his money is now helping feed children and families,” Phillips wrote on X, the social media app formerly known as Twitter.
Phillips said in his tweet that he’s “never spoken with nor met Harlan Crow.” The Republican financier donated $2,800 to Phillips’ 2020 primary campaign, despite the candidate having an estimated net worth upwards of $70 million at the time.
At the time, Phillips erroneously thanked Crow for helping him become the first Democrat to win in his district since 1958, which the billionaire played no part in since his donation arrived after the candidate’s 2018 midterm victory.
The Minnesota Democrat’s primary challenge to President Joe Biden has been off to a rocky start, despite the incumbent’s sagging approval rating and worst polling numbers head-to-head against former President Donald Trump going back to the 2020 cycle. He’s promised to hold more than 100 town halls in the month and-a-half leading up his debut on the ballot on Jan. 23 in New Hampshire against a write-in campaign for Biden.