Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was criticized by Asian-Americans for using an AAPI Heritage Month event to fundraise for her 2024 reelection campaign.

NEWS: Asian-Americans blast Kirsten Gillibrand for fundraising off their heritage

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is gearing up for re-election next year, is facing the wrath of Asian-Americans for leveraging their heritage month celebration to raise funds for her-re-election campaign.

“I haven’t heard from her in years. This is tone-deaf. It’s gauche,” fumed one Asian American activist who received an invite to the New York Democrat’s May 25 fundraiser billed as a “celebration of AAPI [Asian-American and Pacific Islander] Heritage Month.”

“Here’s a politician who’s been MIA. Then I get this out of the blue? What has she done for the AAPI community which has been under attack,” added the donor who requested anonymity.

Annabel Rustum, a national campaign finance aid to Gillibrand, wrote in the pitch to donors, “I hope this email finds you well! I am reaching out on behalf of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to invite you to join a celebration of AAPI Heritage Month on Thursday, May 25th at 6:00pm in NYC. Are you available to join us for this special event? 

“As a Korean American woman, this event is especially meaningful. The senator has been a longtime advocate for the AAPI community, working with leaders like Congresswoman Grace Meng, to address ongoing anti-Asian violence and hate crimes. We need more leaders like Senator Gillibrand who is committed to protecting the AAPI community and lifting up our voices in Washington.” 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was criticized by Asian-Americans for using an AAPI Heritage Month event to fundraise for her 2024 reelection campaign.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

The event will take place at the Upper West Side home of financier Raj Bhattacharyya and Samantha Heller.

Suggested donations range from $250 to $3,330.

“We’d love for you to join us for this event celebrating AAPI arts, culture, and heritage and the re-election of Senator Gillibrand. We cannot wait to bring old and new friends together, many of whom have been doing important work in this area. We are hoping you will consider attending this event, sharing the event with folks in your network, and making a contribution in support of Senator Gillibrand’s re-election,” Rustum told potential donors in the email solicitation.

Yiatin Chu, founder and president of the Asian Wave Alliance, said it was inappropriate for Gillibrand to cash in on the May monthly celebration of  Asian-Americans’ ethnic heritage.

“That’s nice of her to leverage the month in celebration of Asian-Americans to raise funds for her campaign. I’m not aware of what she has done for the Asian-American community,” Chu, who was not solicited, said with sarcasm.

Chu wondered where Gillibrand stood on the lawsuit challenging affirmative action policies at Harvard University and U. of North Carolina, claiming the preferences for other minorities discriminate against Asian-American students.

Activist Yiatin Chu questioned what Gillibrand has done for the Asian-American community.
Activist Yiatin Chu questioned what Gillibrand has done for the Asian-American community.
Steven Hirsch

The US Supreme Court is reviewing the case.

The Gillibrand campaign had no immediate comment.

The junior senator from New York is favored to win re-election to a full, third six-year term. A challenge has not emerged from her left flank, at least not yet.

Democratic socialist firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents portions of The Bronx and Queens, said she will seek re-election and not run a primary against Gillibrand.

She has received backing already from Manhattan Democratic leader Keith Wright, Hazel Dukes of the NAACP and Emily’s List that backs female Democrat candidates.

It is unclear who the Republican Party will put up against her. Former Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, who provided a strong showing as the Republican nominee for governor last year, is focusing on other ventures and told The Post he’s not looking to challenge Gillibrand, at least for now.

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