*Updated on January 6, 2020: Since this piece has been published the Klobuchar campaign reached out to inform us that Senator Amy Klobuchar will be returning the donation. In a statement sent to The Guardian, a spokesperson for the campaign stated, "The campaign shouldn’t have accepted this contribution and we’re returning it."
Originally published on January 3, 2020:
Minnesota senator and Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar reportedly accepted a donation from Central Park Five prosecutor Linda Fairstein. The donation, originally reported by The Guardian, raised new questions about the candidate's views on the injustices of the criminal justice system.
Fairstein came to prominence in 1989 after wrongly charging five innocent Black and Latino teenagers for the rape of a white woman in Central Park. The five boys were later cleared after the real perpetrator came forward more than 10 years later.
The case has long been a symbol of the racial inequality in the U.S. criminal justice system, especially with regards to Black and Latino men, and it has garnered a new level of attention with the release of the Netflix series When They See Us.
The Guardian reported that the $1,000 donation from Fairstein was given to Klobuchar in March 2019 and had not been returned despite the backlash. Klobuchar, a former prosecutor
Fairstein also has a history with other candidates in the Democratic primary field, having held a fundraiser with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in support of her 2012 run for the Senate. Warren has recently attempted to distance herself from said fundraiser.
“This was in 2012 but it was wrong. Linda’s record is troubling," Warren said in a statement after information of her previous connection to Fairstein became public, according to The Guardian. "Part of our deciding to run our presidential campaign the way we are is the decision to say Elizabeth is not going to give special access to high-dollar donors through closed-door fundraisers.”
Sen. Klobuchar who is also a former prosecutor has yet to release a statement on the matter.
Last year in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, Fairstein said she agreed with the decision to vacate the rape convictions of the five men after a DNA match concluded another person had committed the crime, but she has continued to push for other criminal charges to remain.