Hillary Clinton raised money for her campaign and Democratic party committees from an array of Hollywood figures at the homes of George Clooney and Jeffrey Katzenberg on Saturday, in what was expected to be her most successful evening of showbiz fundraising so far in the 2016 presidential race.
Clinton attended a fundraising dinner on Saturday evening at the Studio City home of Clooney and his wife Amal, with Ellen DeGeneres, Jane Fonda, Anna Wintour and Jim Parsons among the attendees. The event was widely publicized, as the campaign held a contest to win tickets to the fete.
At the event, Clinton floated between two head tables, one hosted by the Clooneys and another hosted by Katzenberg and his wife Marilyn. Others at the event included Jim Gianopulos, Tom Rothman and Bryan Lourd.
In the afternoon, Clinton attended a smaller gathering at the Katzenbergs’ Beverly Hills home, where she was joined by Casey Wasserman, Haim Saban, the Clooneys, and Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw. All were cohosts. Also present: James Cameron, and George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson, according to source briefed on the event. It was largely kept under wraps until late Saturday afternoon.
As supporters of Bernie Sanders staged a protest down the street, backers of Clinton emphasized that the bulk of the money raised would be going to the national and state Democratic party and benefit candidates across the country.
About 150 people attended the events, with tickets priced at $33,400 per person. Co-hosts contributed $50,000, and event co-chairs contributed $353,000. Money went to the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint committee for the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state party committees. The money is split between the entities — donors are limited to a maximum of $2,700 per person to the Clinton campaign and $33,400 per person to the DNC. Other funds went to state parties.
According to a Clinton aide, she talked about “building on the progress we made under President Obama. She does not believe that we live in a single issue country and she is not a single issue candidate.”
An attendee at the Clooney event described Clinton as “completely enthusiastic,” as she talked about the Supreme Court, marriage equality, income inequality and mass incarceration. The Clooneys and Katzenberg each gave remarks before she spoke. “She spent more time talking about the dangers of Trump than beating up on Bernie,” an attendee said.
Clinton also attended a $2,700-per-person event earlier in the day at the LINE Hotel in Koreatown, and a free campaign rally in the morning at Los Angeles Southwest College.
This weekend, campaign of her rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, bought time to run an ad spot, called “$27,” on Los Angeles stations to contrast the average contribution to Sanders’ campaign to that of some of the high-dollar events that Clinton has held.
Clooney himself agreed with Sanders’ criticism of the high dollar amounts being raised. In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that will air on Sunday, he noted that when he pulled up to a fundraising event he also was co-hosting on Friday night in San Francisco, there were Sanders protesters present and “they’re right to protest.”
“They’re absolutely right,” he told Chuck Todd. “It is an obscene amount of money. The Sanders campaign when they talk about it is absolutely right. It’s ridiculous that we should have this kind of money in politics. I agree completely.”
A group of Sanders supporters held their own fundraising event at a home just down the street from the Clooneys. Dubbed the “99% Party,” it was being held at the residence of Howard Gold — of the family that founded the 99 Cents store chain. Radio host Cary Harrison, actor Andrew Keegan and director Matthew Cooke were among the co-hosts, and contributions were $27 per person.
About 110 Sanders supporters gathered in front of Gold’s home and lined both sides of huge street. As Clinton’s motorcade went by, they threw $1,000 in real dollar bills at the vehicles. After it passed, they danced in the street to “Dancing in the Streets” as Secret Service agents and LAPD officers looked on.
Among those present was actress Frances Fisher, a longtime Sanders supporter who held a “Feel the Bern” sign.
She told The Hill that the ticket price for the Clooney event “is more than minimum wage [annual salary] would be if we went up to $15 nationwide.” Other demonstrators held signs that read, Goldman Sach’s Loves Hillary.”
The view of many other Hollywood Democrats, however, is that as much as they decry money in politics, they are also pragmatic, and do not want to cede the money race to Republicans. Clinton has called for overturning Citizens United, the landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision that removed restrictions on unlimited outside spending in presidential contests.
“The best way to get money out of politics is to elect Hillary Clinton,” said Andy Spahn, an organizer of the event whose consultancy firm represents some of the evening’s co-hosts, including Katzenberg and Spielberg.
Jon Vein, the CEO of Marketshare who hosted Clinton at his home in February, noted that she was spending time raising for national and state parties, which will benefit candidates down ballot in November. That would benefit Sanders, too, if he were to be the nominee, he said.
“Everybody there — if they could get money out of politics, they would,” he said. Given that Republicans will continue to pour huge sums into campaigns, “until we get rid of Citizens United, it is foolish not to raise as much as possible.”