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Rufus Gifford says he’s donating a contribution from CBS head accused of sexual harassment

Rufus Gifford, a Third District congressional candidate whose father sits on the CBS Corp. board.Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/File 2018

Rufus Gifford, the Third District congressional candidate whose father sits on the CBS Corp. board, said Thursday he’s donating thousands of dollars that the company’s embattled chief executive, Leslie Moonves, gave his campaign, after several women accused Moonves of sexual harassment.

Gifford said he sent Moonves’s $2,700 contribution to Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts on Monday — the same day the CBS board, where Charles “Chad” Gifford is a member, met but did not discipline the company’s longtime CEO.

The board said in a statement that it would select an outside counsel “to conduct an independent investigation” after The New Yorker last week published allegations from a half-dozen women, many quoted by name.


Actress Illeana Douglas said that during a 1997 meeting, Moonves held her down and was “violently kissing” her. (CBS said that Moonves acknowledges trying to kiss her but denied any assault.) Two of the six women told the magazine that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers.

Moonves is one of 11 CBS executives, board members, and their relatives who have given to Rufus Gifford’s campaign, totaling more than $24,000.

The $2,700 that Moonves gave Gifford in November is the only donation he’s made to a federal candidate this cycle, according to Federal Election Commission records, and it appears to be the first one Moonves has made since 2010.

“We should all be grateful for the incredibly brave women who have come forward in the past year and made their stories heard,” Rufus Gifford said in a statement. “We as a society can and must get better.”

Gifford is not the first candidate in the race to expunge a donation. State Representative Juana B. Matias said in June that she returned a $5,700 donation from Junot Diaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and MIT professor, after he was hit with allegations of sexual harassment. An MIT investigation later cleared him to return to teach this fall, and Diaz retained his editing position at Boston Review.


The Third District’s 10-person Democratic field faces off in a Sept. 4 primary.

Reach Matt Stout at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.