5:23 pm Apr. 19, 2012
Among the litany of fashion designers, attorneys, and activists who appear on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's list of first quarter-donors is Wendi Murdoch, who contributed $2,500 dollars toward Gillibrand's re-election on Feb. 29.
Murdoch is the wife of Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire includes Fox News and the New York Post, which regularly savages Gillibrand, and promotes the idea of her electoral "vulnerability" in its reporting, opinion pieces and editorials, even when it isn't immediately apparent.
It's not unprecedented for Murdoch to contribute to Democrats. She gave $2,000 to Chuck Schumer in 2003, and another $2,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2009, back when she listed her occupation as an executive at MySpace. (The record of her donation to Gillibrand lists her as a "homemaker," but with the address of Fox's headquarters at 1211 Avenue of the Americas.)
But the vast majority of her donations are to conservative senators like Mitch McConnell, John Thune and Ted Stevens, along with a few congressional candidates, and the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain.
Murdoch and Gillibrand occupy some common ground on women's issues, which Gillibrand has made central to her agenda and political identity. Murdoch has tried to raise awareness on maternal mortality and education for women in the developing world, and Gillibrand sponsored a bill in 2010 to promote access to education in developing countries.
The single contribution from Rupert Murdoch's wife doesn't necessarily signal anything about the relationship between the senator and News Corp. But, as Gillibrand's predecessor knows, odder things have happened.