Do Whitfield Donors Know Their Money Could Support Stoning?

by Ianthe Metzger

In addition to $35,000 already spent at notorious Sultan of Brunei’s Beverly Hills Hotel, Congressman set to increase total during this weekend’s gala

WASHINGTON –– New reports indicate that protesters will greet Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and other attendees at his three-day fundraising gala in Beverly Hills this weekend because the venue’s owner, the Sultan of Brunei, has implemented new laws that could lead to citizens in his country being stoned to death.  Whitfield’s events at the Sultan’s Beverly Hills Hotel will add to the $35,000 total that he and his “Thoroughbred” PAC have already spent there this election cycle.

Today the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, raised new questions about whether donors to Whitfield and his political action committee know that thousands of dollars in contributions are being given to a regime that started implementing these horrific new laws in May.

“Do Congressman Whitfield’s donors know that he’s handing over tens of thousands of dollars in their contributions to a regime that could start stoning women and LGBT people next year?” said Fred Sainz, HRC’s Vice President of Communications. “One has to wonder too whether the fundraiser’s attendees realize that money paying for every bite they take and drink they sip will belong to the Sultan of Brunei.”

A list of all contributors to Whitfield’s political action committee is available on the website.

According to the Washington Post, Whitfield and his political action committee have booked The Beverly Hills Hotel bar, its “poolside cabana,” as well as space for a private dinner.  An invitation obtained by the Sunlight Foundation indicates each guest is expected to pay between $1,500 and $3,000 for the chance to participate in Whitfield’s fundraiser.

The Sultan has faced an international backlash following his decision in April to begin implementing a horrific series of penal code reforms that could lead to stoning of women and LGBT people in Brunei.  The United Nations Commission on Human Rights condemned the penal code reforms, and stated that stoning is considered to be "torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" under international law. 

The Human Rights Campaign, civil rights organizations, as well as prominent citizens and leaders in business and philanthropy have widely condemned these draconian laws, and have urged all citizens to stay away from the Sultan’s hotels. These actions have led to a sharp drop-off in business for Sultan’s hotel in Beverly Hills and have impacted others around the world as well.

Yesterday, HRC criticized Whitfield’s decision to host a fundraiser at the hotel.

“It’s deeply disappointing that Congressman Whitfield sided with the Sultan and against the fundamental human rights of women and LGBT people in Brunei,” said Sainz in yesterday’s statement.  “He’s already handed over tens of thousands of dollars to the Sultan through his hotel, and that stream of cash needs to stop.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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