Star Donors Turn Out for Obama, But the Jury’s Out on SuperPACs

President Obama’s re-election campaign collected contributions from stars like George Clooney, Bette Midler, Mariah Carey and Will Ferrell in February, along with other notable figures such as Bill Gates, Martha Stewart and Deepak Chopra.

Their names were among those in the latest disclosure reports filed today with the Federal Election Commission.

Each of the donors contributed to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint committee in which contributions are split between Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee. That has allowed donors to make more sizable contributions of up to $35,800, given campaign contribution limits.

Others donating to the Victory Fund included Russell Simmons, Sony’s Howard Stringer, actress Mariska Hargitay, former “24” star Dennis Haysbert, Magic Johnson, Tyler Perry, HBO co-president Richard Plepler, Byron Allen, Jim Belushi, writer-producer Kevin Bright, attorney Joseph Calabrese and Children’s Television Workshop founder Joan Ganz Cooney.

The largest individual donor seeking Obama’s reelection didn’t give directly to the campaign, but to a SuperPAC. That was Bill Maher, who gave a much-publicized $1 million to Priorities USA Action, accounting for half of the money that the SuperPAC raised in February. Organizers are hoping that the pace of fundraising picks up in the coming months, with White House and campaign officials appearing at events in a bid to draw high-dollar donors.

Although Mitt Romney, leading in the race for the GOP nomination, trails Obama when it comes to picking up entertainment industry support, a SuperPAC that has been supporting his candidacy, Restore Our Future, collected $500,000 in February from former Univision chief Jerry Perenchio. The SuperPAC raised about $6.4 million during the period.

Obama’s raised $41.3 million during the month, including $21.3 million for the campaign and $20 million for the DNC. Romney raised $11.5 million during the same period.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Democrats are still way ahead of the GOP candidates in drawing show biz support for all candidates and committees. Through the end of January, Democrats have collected $12.5 million from entertainment to Republicans’ $5.8 million, a spread of 68% to 32%. That’s actually narrower than the 78% to 22% in 2008.

The top recipient of show biz money, to little surprise, was Obama, according to the CRP, raising $1.3 million so far this cycle. The next highest recipient was Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), who has raised $337,000 for his campaign in which he is facing a tough primary race against Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)

The top Republican recipient of industry money was Romney, with $271,195.



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