Turner, Fonda support Packwood foes

December 16, 1993|By Donna St. George | Donna St. George,Knight-Ridder News Service

Ted Turner and Jane Fonda have made a comeback in the Packwood controversy -- this time siding with the 28 women who have accused the senator with sexual harassment.

In two checks drawn on their individual accounts, Mr. Turner and Ms. Fonda gave $1,000 each to the legal fund for Bob Packwood's accusers, most of whom worked in his Senate office or on his campaigns.

"The contribution speaks for itself and is a personal decision," Michael Oglesby, a spokesman for the celebrity couple, said Tuesday.

The gifts follow an earlier contribution of $2,000 made by Turner Broadcasting System to the opposing cause: Packwood's defense fund.

That contribution had brought on a stream of complaints during the last several months, from viewers and from employees of Turner Broadcasting, which owns CNN.

Some wondered how Mr. Turner, who created a news network and founded the Better World Society, could also support Mr. Packwood, R-Ore. And what did Ms. Fonda, his wife and a prominent advocate for women's rights, have to say about it?

Until Tuesday, the answer was that Mr. Packwood had been a "friend to the cable industry," with a "distinguished record" in the Senate, where he ranks as senior Republican on the influential Senate Finance Committee.

The news that Mr. Turner and Ms. Fonda have now given their own money to Mr. Packwood's detractors reassured women's groups including Milwaukee-based 9to5, the National Association of Working Women.

The group has been a leader in criticizing corporations that have helped Mr. Packwood fend off charges of sexual harassment. Turner Broadcasting was among the companies that gave directly, through its political-action committee.

All told, Mr. Packwood has collected more than $279,000 for his defense, while the women accusing him have gathered not more than $40,000 for their legal fund.

"I think Ms. Fonda's donation signals what we knew before: she has always been a strong supporter of women and this was no exception," said 9to5 executive director Ellen Bravo. "As for Mr. Turner, I think his contribution says clearly that his sympathy is not with [sexual] harassers."

The Turner-Fonda contributions give another boost to a legal fund that has swelled with cookie-jar-size donations from ordinary citizens since news stories reported in November that corporate leaders were giving thousands to help Mr. Packwood.

Mr. Turner and Ms. Fonda's gifts stand out now as two of four $1,000 contributions, the largest the group has received. The other two came from a golf-club components company, Golfsmith International, in Austin, Texas, and a Michigan doctor and his wife.

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