LA Collector Cuts Donations to Democrats Voting for Tighter Restrictions on Syrian Refugees

Blake Byrne has also sent letters to entertainment industry figures.

Blake Byrne has expressed his disappointment at the Democrats who voted with Republicans to impose tougher restrictions on refugees. Photo: nasher.duke.edu

The Los Angeles art collector and philanthropist Blake Byrne has announced that he will cease campaign donations to Democrats who voted with Republicans on Thursday on a bill that called for an increase in restrictions against Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the United States.

Republican lawmakers have pushed for tougher restrictions in the wake of the terror attacks on Paris that claimed 130 lives.

The former television executive said he was “greatly disappointed” in an email addressed to several Democrats including California representatives Julia Brownley, John Garamendi and Scott Peters.

Byrne cut campaign donations to House Democrats who voted for the Bill. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Byrne cut campaign donations to House Democrats who voted for the Bill.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

He also singled out Arizona representative Kyrsten Sinema, and New York congressmen Sean Maloney and Steve Israel, the former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman and a leading Democratic fundraiser.

Byrne also sent letters to the Los Angeles Times, and entertainment industry figures. “What a disappointment you are to me and all the others who fight for equal rights for our fellow Americans,” he wrote.

Although the collector conceded that many California Democrats may face a difficult election in 2016, he said that a tough race was an invalid excuse. “I too want a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives,” he said, “but not people who use others hardships as their stepping stones.”

Millions of refugees have fled the Middle East and North Africa to escape conflict and poverty. Photo: Hendrik Schmidt via Getty Images/AFP/

Millions of refugees have fled the Middle East and North Africa to escape conflict and poverty.
Photo: Hendrik Schmidt via Getty Images/AFP/

According to the Los Angeles Times, Byrne has made significant philanthropic contributions to Democratic candidates and LGBT political groups totaling almost $1 million since 1992.

The exhibition “Open This End: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Blake Byrne,” which includes artists such as Agnes Martin, Wangechi Mutu, Paul McCarthy, and Bruce Nauman, is now traveling and will appear at Columbia University in New York and Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Oregon, in 2016. It opened earlier this year at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art, where Byrne is chair emeritus of the board of advisors.

Byrne founded the Skylark Foundation, which supports causes like gay and lesbian elder housing and environmental preservation. He is also a lifetime trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Many of the philanthropist’s contributions were donated through fundraising organizations such as the DCCC to whom Byrne has given $318,000 since 1996, or the Democratic National Committee to whom he already donated $25,000 towards the 2016 election.

“I want people to speak out,” Byrne said. […] “The more I study the more I get involved and the more emotional I get. I feel I have a foot in the two different cultures, and I want to share my thoughts when I feel people are being abused.”


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics