Washington – October 12 : In this handout image provided by the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama (R) talks about Sudan with actor George Clooney during a meeting outside the Oval Office October 12, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Power shifts to those who write giant checks, rather than collect many smaller ones.
By Todd S. Purdum
5/3/15 – 7:50 AM EDT
Updated 5/3/15 10:08 AM EDT
LOS ANGELES – In the wide-open, Wild West world of political fundraising spawned by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, a once-bright liberal star has dimmed a bit in the current presidential election cycle: The Hollywood bundler.
In the 1990s, a donor who rounded up, say, $50,000 in hard-money contributions from like-minded friends, or gave $100,000 of his or her own money to the Democratic National Committee ranked as a big player – and got a front-row seat – in Democratic politics.
In the gilded age of deep-pocketed conservative donors like Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess and the Koch brothers – who can afford to give millions to super PACs backing a single candidate, if they choose – that’s no longer true, as some longtime donors active in Hollywood and New York now acknowledge.
To compete with her GOP rivals, Hillary Clinton will have to tap Democratic-friendly billionaires like George Soros, Tom Steyer and even Michael Bloomberg in the crunch of the general election campaign. Even celebrity-studded galas and concerts will presumably lose some of their allure.
“When the moment of truth comes, it’s only going to be focused on people who are in a position to give $5 million, $10 million, $25 million,” said one veteran donor and fundraiser in Manhattan, speaking on condition of anonymity, like everyone else contacted about this topic by POLITICO in recent days. “And that means most of us won’t be participating in that, in any level, and that’s a little sad.”
To be sure, a bevy of the usual suspects are busy on both coasts raising thousands of $2,700 contributions — the maximum that any single donor can give to a candidate’s primary campaign committee. That’s the price tag at two Hollywood events slated for Clinton on May 7, a luncheon at the home of TV producer Steven Bochco and his wife, Dayna, and a dinner at the home of Power Rangers magnate Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl.
The Sabans, in particular, are longtime Clinton friends and supporters, who have been raising and giving money to both Bill and Hillary Clinton for 20 years.
Meantime, Andy Spahn, the longtime political adviser to such entertainment industry titans as David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, is doing the same thing: Focusing on the first round of hard-money donors and raising money for Clinton through social media appeals.
“It’s back to the future,” said one major Los Angeles Democratic donor and party activist. “Andy Spahn, like a good soldier, is bundling, bundling, bundling.”
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