Why Hollywood Is Donating Big Money to an NRA-Loving Republican
This story first appeared in the June 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Why are some of Hollywood's most reliable Democratic donors giving thousands of dollars to a leading conservative Congressman in the coming midterm election? It's just business.
U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, ranks fifth among federal candidates receiving entertainment industry money this season, behind usual darlings Alison Lundergan Grimes, Cory Booker, Ed Markey and Al Franken.
Goodlatte, 61, caught the industry's attention when he co-sponsored the Stop Online Piracy Act in 2011 and now, with the Judiciary Committee embarking on a complete review of U.S. copyright laws, his campaign coffers are flush with entertainment money -- though he's running largely unopposed Nov. 4.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, film, TV and music executives and their company PACs have donated more than $191,000 to Goodlatte's campaign, making the entertainment industry his largest contributor. Donors include Paramount's Brad Grey and Adam Goodman, Warner Bros.' Kevin Tsujihara, Fox Searchlight's Nancy Utley, BMI's Del Bryant and Universal Music's Zach Horowitz. Goodlatte's fundraising committee received an additional $140,000 in 2013 and 2014 from funds with ties to Hollywood companies, including Disney, Sony Pictures, Viacom, Netflix, the DGA and the MPAA.
With his pro-intellectual property stance (he recently called copyright "a core part of our economy and society"), it's easy to understand why Hollywood supports Goodlatte. But at the same time, he has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association, he's a member of the Congressional Pro-life Caucus, he wants to repeal Obamacare and his campaign paid Chick-fil-A $400 to cater an event in January.
In addition, without a serious challenger, Goodlatte's campaign has transferred $200,000 from his reelection fund to the Republican party to support other candidates, according to the Federal Election Commission. Another $100,000 was shifted from the Goodlatte Victory Committee to the party.
Although entertainment execs might disagree on social issues, it's not unusual to see liberal donors crossing the aisle. "They have a responsibility to their shareholders for their businesses to be successful," says political consultant Donna Bojarsky. "This part is the business of Hollywood behaving as a business."