Hollywood Spending Big to Back Democrats for Senate

Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 09:36 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Hollywood stars are opening their wallets this election season to help finance Democrats' campaigns nationwide in hopes of keeping a party majority in the Senate, with Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes receiving the lion's share of the money.

Grimes, who is in a heated campaign to unseat Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has received at least $100,000 from her fans among the Hollywood stars, including maximum contributions of $5,200 each from 14 familiar names, reports The Hill, which analyzed Federal Election Commission data.

Editor's Note: 9 Overlooked Free Benefits for People Over 50

Grimes' donors, each giving the maximum amount of $5,200 individuals are permitted to give to a single candidate during a two-year election cycle, include actors Ben Affleck, Nicolas Cage, Danny DeVito, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Garner, Tom Hanks, Jerry Seinfeld, Mike Myers, Jack Black, and Jon Hamm. In addition, producer J.J. Abrams, along with directors James Cameron and Steven Spielberg also gave the maximum $5,200 donations.

But those aren't Grimes' only donors. Woody Allen, Leonard Nimoy, Ted Danson, America Ferrera, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, and "West Wing" writer Aaron Sorkin have also opened their wallets for her campaign.

Republicans are fighting to pick up six seats to win control of the Senate, and political watchers say that while the party can count on wins in Montana, West Virginia, and South Dakota, races are more competitive in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Iowa, and North Carolina, reports The Washington Post. The newspaper gave a GOP takeover a "better than 50-50 proposition" for taking over the Senate.

Barbra Streisand, once again, is one of the key Hollywood donors this election season. She's given $10,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and $2,600 to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Democratic Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Mark Begich of Alaska, all of whom are targeted this fall, each got $1,000 from Streisand, the FEC records show.

And even Democrats in lesser known races are getting money from Hollywood. Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus pitched in $2,600 to California Rep. Lois Capps, and Gwyneth Paltrow donated $1,500 to New York Rep. Tim Bishop.

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who will square off against businessman Mike McFadden in November after the Republican won his spot in Tuesday's primary election, still has a lot of friends among his fellow "Saturday Night Live" alumni members. Steve Martin has donated $5,200 to Franken, while Jane Curtin gave him $4,600. "West Wing" actor Bradley Whitford, singer Jason Mraz, and director Carl Reiner have also donated to Franken.

Stars have also been donating money to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who was elected in a special election to succeed late former Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Actors Matt Damon and Affleck held a fundraiser for him, and he netted further donations from Garner, screenwriter Billy Ray, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, Ron Howard, and Streisand.

The midterm election donations are unusual, said University of Southern California history professor Steven J. Ross, the author of Pulitzer Prize-nominated "Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics."

Editor's Note: 9 Overlooked Free Benefits for People Over 50

"I think if they give, they want to give in a celebrity context, which means the presidential election," Ross said.

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