A homophobic comment made by the actor Alec Baldwin on the social-networking site Twitter in June has gay and straight activists calling for Capital One to part ways with Mr. Baldwin as spokesman for its credit cards.
Some say it’s only fitting after various companies decided to sever their ties with celebrity chef Paula Deen, after she admitted to using a racial slur, but Capital One has remained mum on Mr. Baldwin’s status.
If Mr. Baldwin was fired from the ad campaign, several East End organizations would stand to be hurt. The money he makes from Capital One commercials goes directly to local institutions such as Guild Hall, the Hamptons Film Festival, the East Hampton Library, the Group for the East End and the Springs Improvement Society.
His beneficiaries have remained relatively silent, if not outright supportive, after Mr. Baldwin called a gay male reporter a “toxic little queen” after he wrote a story about Mr. Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria, tweeting during James Gandolfini’s funeral in June.
“He has been a major benefactor of ours for the construction of the new children’s addition and for our Author’s Night benefit,” said Sheila Rogers, the first vice president of East Hampton Library’s board. “I think Capital One is lucky to have him, frankly. Unfortunately, they got him at the wrong moment.”
According to Ms. Rogers, the library has received close to $500,000 from Mr. Baldwin over the past two and a half years.
Ms. Rogers said if he were to be dropped from the Capital One campaign and not donate as he has in the past it would be a “tremendous loss.”
Just this year, Mr. Baldwin allotted $30,000 for the Group for the East End. Bob DeLuca, the director of the organization, said he can’t judge Mr. Baldwin and is thankful for his contributions.
“Looking at this recent dustup, honestly, I don’t feel any differently today about Alec’s support for our work than I have in the past,” he said. “Because of his support we have been able to do more for the resources that define our region and that has value to every one of us. Somebody a lot smarter and a heck of a lot more important than me once reminded us all that unless we were without sin, we should be very careful about casting the first stone.”
Last month Mr. Baldwin paid off a loan that the Springs Improvement Society had taken out for renovations on Ashawagh Hall. According to society member Loring Bolger, he called up one day and said he wanted to make a donation. He gave $60,000 from his Capital One funds.
Ms. Bolger said his donation says a lot about the small community hall and Mr. Baldwin’s generosity, but wouldn’t comment on his latest mistake.
“Everybody is human,” she said. “We are eternally grateful for his generous contribution.”
As of mid-July, Guild Hall has received $157,000 from the Alec Baldwin Foundation, but Ruth Appelhof, executive director of Guild Hall, did not return numerous phone calls or emails seeking comment. Capital One did not return numerous calls and emails for comment, either.
East Hampton resident, and Press columnist, Steven Gaines, who is gay, said he doesn’t know how these organizations can still take Mr. Baldwin’s money.
“They don’t care,” he said. “People make mistakes once, twice, but three, four or five times? It doesn’t end with him. There are certain things you really can’t forgive.”
He said he doesn’t understand why Capital One still wants to be associated with him.
“Members of the gay community are canceling their accounts with Capital One, but they haven’t said a word,” he said. “How can they remain mum? Why can they forgive him from calling a man a “queen?”
Reverend Dr. Katrina Foster, a gay pastor who has led St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett since 2010, is a little bit more forgiving. She said the original article about Mr. Baldwin’s wife that spurred on his remarks was not a story at all.
“I think the urge to protect oneself is a good urge, but I might’ve done it better,” she said. “Do we all say things we might regret? Sure. That’s not all of who he is.”
She said Mr. Baldwin has contributed a ton to the arts on the East End, including to the scholarship fund at Hayground School in Bridgehampton, which her own family has directly benefited from.
“As a gay person, the terms he used—it wasn’t a good thing to call the guy a ‘queen,’” she said. “I think people are free to put pressure on any groups they want to … but people are more complex than a Tweet.”