By Danielle Kurtzleben, Washington Whispers
They've been showing signs of frustration with President Obama's approach to the wars and Gulf oil spill crisis, but that hasn't stopped Hollywood celebrities from donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic National Committee. In fact, in a Washington Whispers review of DNC's successful fundraising for the 2010 election cycle, over a dozen well-known stars from the movie, TV, fashion, and book worlds have given the maximum amount of $30,400 since Obama took office. [See a slide show of notable figures who gave the maximum to the DNC for 2010.]
The donations help to explain in part how the DNC has kept pace with the Republican National Committee in recent fundraising periods, though many Republicans have instead donated to the GOP's House and Senate election committees due to concerns about RNC Chairman Michael Steele's leadership and spending at headquarters.
While many of the top donations came in 2009, when Obamamania was still the rage, the celebs continue to spend freely on the DNC. In March, for example, horror author Stephen King sent the DNC $30,400 and a month earlier, Dennis Haysbert, who played Democratic President David Palmer in the hit Fox series 24, sent the same amount to the DNC's Capitol Hill headquarters, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. [See which industries give the most to Congress.]
Three of the biggest political givers for the 2010 election cycle are the trio at the helm of film studio Dreamworks SKG–Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. In addition to his $30,400 to the DNC, Geffen also gave $5,000 to both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and LA PAC (a PAC affiliated with California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman). Geffen contributed a total of nearly $30,000 to several other Democratic congressional candidates, including failed Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley, California Rep. Jane Harman, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. [See where Reid's money is coming from.]
Spielberg and Katzenberg were joined by their families in contributing political money; together, Spielberg and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw Spielberg, gave $30,400 to the DNC. They also contributed $40,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and over $20,000 to other committees and candidates, including Reid, California Sen. Barbara Boxer, and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Likewise, Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn, together contributed $30,400 to the DNC and $40,000 to the DCCC, with contributions also going to Boxer, Reid, Gillibrand, and the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party. Additionally, Katzenberg's son, David, gave $15,200 to the DNC.
Several people involved in fictional politics contributed the maximum amount to the DNC this cycle, including 24 star Kiefer Sutherland and Aaron Sorkin, the creator of The West Wing, both of whom gave the max allowed.
[See a slide show of notable figures who gave the maximum to the DNC for 2010.]
Other notable figures contributing the maximum amount to the DNC for 2010 cycle include:
• Dustin Hoffman (actor)
• James Burrows (TV Director/Producer – Two and a Half Men, Friends, Cheers)
• Mark Burnett (TV Producer – Survivor, The Apprentice)
• Jamie Foxx (actor, singer, comedian)
• Calvin Klein (clothing and underwear designer)
• Tyler Perry (actor, director, producer, screenwriter)
• Rob Reiner (actor, director, producer); also gave $2,500 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, plus over $10,000 to other Democratic candidates.
• Seth Rogen (actor, comedian)
• Hans Zimmer (film score composer); also contributed $4800 to Harry Reid