Leslie Wexner, CEO of L Brands, said at an Ohio leadership conference that he was “no longer a Republican.” Wexner has given hundreds of thousands of dollar to GOP candidates in Ohio and elsewhere. He says he will now be an independent.
Wexner’s defection came a day after former President Obama made an appearance in Ohio on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray. Obama skewered Republican members of Congress, saying, “What you’re seeing is Republicans in Congress who are bending over backwards to try to shield and deflect oversight of this behavior and accountability and consequences.”
“This is serious. You know it is. And frankly, even some of the Republicans know it is. They will say it, they just don’t do anything about it. [They say] ‘we’ll put up with crazy’ in exchange for tax reform and deregulation.”
That’s rather simple-minded given the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren alternative. It’s not so much that Republicans have done a great job in Congress, it’s simply a matter of recognizing the lesser of two evils. Aside from impeachment, a Democratic takeover of Congress would stymie Trump’s agenda for the next two years, including having a veto over any other Supreme Court vacancy that opens up.
Wexner has been no friend to the president.
The billionaire CEO reportedly said in a speech last year that he was “ashamed” by Trump’s response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that erupted in violence and led to the death of a 32-year-old woman.
The Ohio businessman has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and groups over the years, including giving $250,000 to a super PAC backing Sen. Rob Portman‘s (R) reelection campaign in 2016 and nearly $70,000 to GOP committees and candidates in Ohio and other states, the Dispatch noted.
Wexner isn’t the first top GOP supporter to leave the party. The Hill reports that “Michael London, a former member of the Trumbull Town Council in Connecticut, announced he was leaving the party because it was “no longer the party that I believed in all these years.”
There’s something to that complaint. The party of anti-deficits and restrained federal spending has become indistinguishable in that regard from Democrats. As the federal deficit heads toward a trillion dollars, Republicans are sleepwalking into disaster. They couldn’t repeal Obamacare. They’ve done precious little on border security or any kind of desperately needed immigration reform. It’s a legislative record that few are proud of.
The GOP isn’t going to run out of money any time soon, so Wexner’s defection won’t hurt in the short term. But Wexner certainly won’t be the last defector from a party struggling with its identity.