As Hollywood figures call for an expansion of California’s tax incentive program to curb runaway production, studio chiefs will undoubtedly have a chance to make a pitch next month when they hold a fundraiser for Gov. Jerry Brown.
On Nov. 21, Disney’s Alan Horn and his wife Cindy are hosting an event for Brown’s re-election campaign at their home, with the MPAA’s Chris Dodd, Fox’s Jim Gianopulos, Paramount’s Brad Grey, DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sony’s Michael Lynton, Warner Bros.’ Barry Meyer and Kevin Tsujihara, Universal’s Ron Meyer, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg among the other co-hosts.
Dodd has called for the state to expand its incentive program to better compete with other states. And while Brown has signed legislation extending the state’s $100 million per year incentive program, he has not said whether he would support an effort to increase funding or the scope of the state’s incentives. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that Brown “still needs to be convinced.” If Brown does not bring it up, there will be a Q&A portion of the event.
Tickets start at $5,000 per person, with contributors at the $27,200 level listed as a sponsor and at the $54,400 level listed as co-chairs. State law limits contributions to $27,200 for the primary election and $27,200 for the general election. With strong approval ratings, the expectation is that Brown will not face serious competition for his re-election bid.
The fundraiser is being organized by Andy Spahn, whose clients include Katzenberg and Spielberg. The DreamWorks trio of Geffen, Katzenberg and Spielberg endorsed Brown in 2009, helping to give him an early boost in fundraising that helped knock chief rival Gavin Newsom out of the race. News of the latest event was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.
The 2014 midterms are already seeing a steady stream of politicos trekking to L.A. to raise money, making up for lost time because of the government shutdown and other events that have kept lawmakers in D.C. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) were among those due this week. Meanwhile, plans are being made to reschedule President Obama’s visit to Los Angeles to raise money for the Democratic National Committee after he cancelled his trip in early September because of the unfolding crisis in Syria.
Update: A spokeswoman for the MPAA notes that California law restricts discussion of legislative issues at fundraisers — and there is a pending tax incentive bill albeit the details have yet to be written. “There will be a general discussion of the Governor’s leadership and whatever issues the Governor would like to raise with attendees,” she says.
Update: Dan Schnur, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics and former chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, said that “a donor is not technically allowed to ask for policy action in response to a contribution.” But even with restrictions on such a quid pro quo, he says, “the loophole is as big as the sky.” At a fundraiser, nothing can stop a donor from telling the recipient, “Nice to see you. I look forward to talking to you next week about that legislation that is very, very important to us.”
“They can say anything they want except “Please sign this bill.’ All you need is a thesaurus and a little bit of imagination.”