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Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Image

Warren Kanders resigned from the board of the Whitney Museum this week following months of protests. Kanders owns Safariland, a company that makes the tear gas canisters fired on the U.S.-Mexico border in November.

The big picture: It took quite a long time for Kanders to resign despite his presence on the board casting the Whitney in a negative light for months.

  • Part of the reason for the delay is that although the protests began in December, it was only this month that 8 prominent artists joined in by demanding that their work be withdrawn from the current show at the museum.
  • Another part is that Kanders is stubborn. He believes himself to be on the side of righteousness, saving the lives of law enforcement agents, while his opponents have "a much larger and more insidious agenda."

There's financial logic, too. By occupying a prominent position on the Whitney board, Kanders benefits in 3 main ways.

  1. His position gives him privileged access to the most coveted new art: Galleries are much more likely to sell to the vice chair of the Whitney Museum than to some tear-gas manufacturer.
  2. He can steer the Whitney's acquisition committee toward the artists he likes and collects, thereby giving those artists an institutional imprimatur that will be reflected in his own art's value.
  3. In a city as rich as New York, a seat on the board of a major cultural institution confers a degree of cultural cachet and respectability that money alone can't buy.

Of note: Ken Griffin, the CEO of Citadel, briefly resigned from the Whitney board in solidarity, before changing his mind.

  • If you clicked on the L Brands board page, then the image at the top of the Safariland "About Us" page will educate you even further on the representation of gender in corporate America.

The bottom line: Museums feel a perpetual need to collect collectors, whom they butter up with a combination of flattery and board seats. But now tensions are emerging between labor and capital. The artists who make the museum's art have rarely seemed less aligned with the plutocrats who dominate its board.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”