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Sources: Clinton supporter pressures Pelosi

  • Story Highlights
  • Media mogul Harvey Weinstein is a major Hillary Clinton supporter
  • Weinstein proposed plan to fund revotes in Michigan, Florida
  • Sources say he threatened to cut off funds to congressional Dems
  • Weinstein denies making any threats
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By Ed Henry
CNN White House Correspondent
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Hillary Clinton supporter Harvey Weinstein threatened to cut off contributions to congressional Democrats unless House Speaker Nancy Pelosi embraced his plan to finance revotes in Florida and Michigan, three officials familiar with their conversation said.

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Sources say Harvey Weinstein threatened to cut contributions to congressional Democrats.

Weinstein and Pelosi talked on the phone late last month, the sources said.

The three officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the conversation.

They said Weinstein, a top supporter of Clinton's presidential campaign, appeared determined to buy Clinton more time in her battle against Sen. Barack Obama by pushing for the revote. He was also pressing Pelosi to back off her previous comments that superdelegates should support the candidate who's leading in pledged delegates in early June, the sources said.

Weinstein, a co-founder of Miramax Films who now runs the Weinstein Company, called CNN Thursday to vehemently deny that he issued any threats. "Never, ever was the thought about denying funding to Democrats," he said.

Weinstein said the phone call focused on his offer to put together a team of people to help finance a revote in Florida and Michigan. "I told her people felt there would be a disenfranchisement of voters" unless Democrats came up with a remedy, he said. Video Watch a report on the Pelosi-Weinstein conversation »

Another person familiar with the phone call said what might have upset Pelosi is that Weinstein also suggested that if Democratic leaders "did not fix" the Florida and Michigan problem, powerful Democrats may abandon the eventual party nominee in favor of Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, in November.

But the three officials briefed on the call insisted Weinstein went further by suggesting that if Pelosi did not consider his proposal on the revote, he would help slow the flow of donations to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect House Democrats.

"He was trying to get [Pelosi] to promise not to shut the race down," said one of the officials familiar with the call, which came before the primaries in Indiana and North Carolina.

But Pelosi, who has repeatedly insisted she is neutral in the presidential showdown, refused to meet Weinstein's demands.

"She said, 'Don't ever threaten me again,'" said a second official familiar with the heated conversation.

Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami would not characterize the phone call to CNN, saying only: "This was a private conversation, one of many the speaker has about the presidential campaign."

The possibility of a revote in the delegate-rich states of Florida and Michigan is a critical issue because it may be Clinton's last chance to catch up to Obama in the delegate count.

Currently, Obama has 1,845 pledged delegates to Clinton's 1,686.

The tense confrontation between Pelosi and Weinstein is raising private concerns among some Democrats that tensions run so deep that it may be difficult to heal the party's wounds when the primary season is scheduled to end in early June.

Pelosi's decision to refuse to sign on to Weinstein's proposal for revotes in Florida and Michigan -- which were stripped of their delegates by the Democratic National Committee for moving up their primary dates -- is likely to further irk Clinton allies who have charged that the speaker has been tilting her support to Obama.

A superdelegate herself, Pelosi angered the Clinton camp in March by saying that superdelegates should back the candidate who leads in the pledged delegate count by early June.

Clinton allies saw that as favoring Obama, who has been leading in the pledged delegate count. Pelosi has stressed she is only concerned it will be a problem for the Democratic party as a whole if superdelegates are perceived to have overturned the will of the people by backing a candidate who is behind in pledged delegates.

In March, 20 Clinton fundraisers scolded the speaker in a letter for her remarks on the superdelegate issue, hinting they might hold back funds for the DCCC if Pelosi did not allay their concerns. Weinstein was not among the fundraisers who signed the letter.

"We have been strong supporters of the DCCC," the fundraisers wrote to Pelosi. "We therefore urge you to clarify your position on superdelegates and reflect in your comments a more open view to the optional independent actions of each of the delegates at the National Convention in August."

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Pelosi did not back down then either, and Democratic party officials hardly seem scared by any of the threats. The DCCC reported more than $44 million in cash-on-hand recently, far outpacing its rival, the National Republican Congressional Committee.

While Weinstein is a prolific fundraiser for favored candidates like Clinton, he has not given much money out of his own pocket to the DCCC. His only contribution to the DCCC was a mere $2,000 in 1993, according to Federal Election Commission records, though he has given tens of thousands of dollars in personal money to Senate Democrats over the last decade. The mogul has also raised tens of millions of dollars for Democratic candidates from other donors.

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