Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama taps celebs to woo high end donors.


Presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), heavily reliant on major donors and celebrities despite his public emphasis on small contributors, upped the ante this week to enter his VIP donor world. A new high was set Monday for hosting or chairing an Obama event; chairs of his birthday fund-raiser in Boston had to raise $285,000; co-chairs needed to collect $142,500.

Meanwhile, a string of celebrities from the entertainment world are helping Obama raise campaign money in August and September: Bruce Hornsby; Luciana & Matt Damon and Jennifer Garner & Ben Affleck, Star Jones; Kal Penn; Mira Nair; Ellen Pompeo; Justin Chambers and Scarlett Johansson. Leon Fleisher, Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman will perform at an Obama fund-raiser in Phoenix next month.

The higher price tags in the Boston event was reflected down the line: dinner and the "photoline" was $28,000 per couple or $15,000 a seat. Other tiered categories: Celebration Co-Chair/Sponsor/Friend/Ticket Price: $25,000, $4,600, $2,300, $1,000. The Boston Globe reported $5 million raised from the evening.

Bi-coastal price list: Dinner with Obama on Aug. 17 in San Francisco is $14,250 per couple. The tab for brunch with Caroline Kennedy in Sagaponack, N.Y. the same day is between $10,000 and $2,300.

On Tuesday night, former Vice President Gore was the scheduled headliner at the Nantucket home of Marge and Lou Susman, the Chicago Democratic fund-raiser who was the finance chair in 2004 for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). The sliding price scale for the ran from $4,600 to $10,000 per couple at the high end. The top package included a VIP reception with Gore, general reception and dinner and "conversation."

Musician Bruce Hornsby joins Michelle Obama when he performs in Norforlk, Va. on Wednesday; VIP seating costs $10,000 with cheap seats a $100 donation.

Obama heads to Minneapolis Wednesday night for a high end event with a sliding scale between $28,500 and $1,000.

Catching up: At an Obama Victory Fund high end celebrity fund-raising on Saturday night in Miami Beach two power couples headlined events: Luciana & Matt Damon and Jennifer Garner & Ben Affleck offered themselves as dining companions for $10,000 donors. A pre-dinner reception sliding scale ran from $100 to $2,500.


The Obama family will soon be en route to Hawaii. On Aug. 12 Obama headlines a reception at the Kahala Resort in Honolulu with VIP tickets at $10,000 to $2,300.

On Aug. 17, Obama headlines another mega event in San Francisco where a co-chair for VIP dinner with Obama needs to raise $142,500; dinner with Obama is going for $14,250 per couple.


Please tell me this- Obama is going to be raising taxes for people making 250K and higher. Why do celebrities want more taxes on their millions?? And they keep contributing to this guy, what about the poor people?

star jones? o.k., i'll leave that alone.what does the junior senator from illinois intend to do with all of this money. inasmuch as few field staff are being paid, is this going to axelrod, inc.? and though it has little to do with substance, mr. mccain is into public finance of his effort, yes?
will this money be used to assist congressional and senate races, or is this just a 'war chest" for the 'watash' wannabe?

I think its awesome. Raising taxes on these people isn't something they are scared of. I wouldnt be scared of it either if it meant the money would circulate right back around to me. Nowdays people can't even afford to go to movies or concerts. If the economy changes, we will have people spending more money on their entertainment so these high wealth celebs will inevitably make out alright.
Its great to see so many Hollywood A listers supporting Obama!

Heather: Obama will raise my taxes. I'm encouraging him to do so because the country needs to pay for the Iraq and Afghan wars. This is the first time we've had a war and not paid for it with a tax.

We also have domestic needs that cannot be met without some tax increase. I make enough that I can part with some of it. Many of those making over 250K think the tax situation is imbalanced. The division between the wealthiest Americans and the rest hasn't been this great since the 1920's. That division isn't healthy for our security and economy.

China is currently funding (loaning) a large part of our deficit. We owe China big time. Without that money we would go bankrupt.

And all these multi-millionaire celebrities are kicking in money for the candidate who plans to tax the wealthy????
These beneficiaries of the free market capitalist system are supporting the Mar*ist So* ci*i*t because . . . .???
These artists who rely on the freedom of expression to practice their craft are supporting the King of Political Correct-Speak because ???

Who says celebrities are celebrities are intellectual flyweights????

Now you know why Congress just taxes the first $92,500 for FICA on wages and let's those big wage checks off free and clear. The "Big Lie" is that the working middle class pays no taxes as if Social Securitry taxes were going into a "Trust Fund". Congress spent this year's Social Security tax money on the $300 billion Farm Bill that pays Millionaire Farmers to grow feed for pigs and livestock.The country is drowning in "Nonprofits and Foundations" that allow the rich to avoid taxation. Let the rich pay nonprofits and foundations with after tax money. I'm for the Candidate that will not touch my wages.

Obama is a hypocrite!

The celebrities donating to Obama won't pay extra taxes on their millions because they have high priced accountants organising legal tax shelters that reduce their taxes. When will suckers wake up to the fact that the rich, very rich and super rich can afford to be Democrats and talk about raising taxes when it's only the working stiffs who actually do the paying. Fact is, folks, it's the Republicans who have become the party of the average American not the Democrats which is the party of elitists who think they know what is good for us. If you don't believe that then recall the speech Obama made to a crowd of wealthy supporters in San Francisco where he belittled working class people and our values.

Senator Snobama, the Anointed One, the great community organizer, tapping the liberal communist hollywood fishbowl mafia for cash? Maybe his apostles Sean Penn and Tim Robbins can pass out the loaves and fishes and water turned to wine at these bacchanalian feasts. Way to be a Man Of The People!

As to why celebrities support Obama in spite of the fact he promises to raise their taxes: Some people care more about the state of their country, people less fortunate than themselves, and the lives of soldiers who bravely volunteer to protect us, than they do about a few percentage points on income so far in excess of what is necessary to survive that they would never have the opportunity to spend it if they lived to be 1,000 years old. Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men in America, says it is completely unjust that his investment income is taxed at a higher rate than his secretary's wages. Many people believe that those who have reaped the greatest benefits from living in this country should pay a little bit more than their fair share on a percentage basis than those who are struggling to make ends meet.

It is embarrassing to read/see how Americans elevate actors (whose only purpose is to entertain us, as it was with court jesters)and politicians (the majority of which are egomaniacs and possess an insatiable desire for the power they perceive comes from being elected to office)to a status whereby they would pay thousands of dollars to sit next to either group.

It is time we get back to electing public servants, not politicians. It is also time for the taxpayers to remember that WE pay the salaries of those elected and to start demanding that they perform the job they are paid to do.

I would suggest that Obama use some of the money raised to repay the taxpayers' money he collected in salary to serve as a Senator when, in fact, he has been in absentia campaigning, non-stop, for the past few years.

If Millionaires are taxed more, they are still rich. They are still Millionaires., They will still be able to afford their Huge homes and Luxury cars.And the way it looks ALOT more people are poor or middle class then rich. Id describe someone making 250,000 or more a yr as rich and frankly they will still be wealthy if their taxes are increased or at least richer then most americans.

Obama is not going to increase taxes on the poor and middle class Americans.

"Why do celebrities want more taxes on their millions??" Well under Obama's tax plan, the rich will still be rich, so their personal wealth isn't a very big deal heh.

Seriously. . . how much do these celebs really know about macroeconomics or the global and national effects of our foreign policy? Have any of them spent as much as 15 minutes of their entire lives studying these topics? Go ahead and ask any one of these celebs a technical question on either of these subjects and watch them flounder. Show them a map and they wouldn't know France from Iraq. They should stick with things they know more about, like designer clothing and expensive wine.

Just to throw this out there- if Obama wins, my seemingly 'rich' father by America's standards will no longer be able to afford my college tuition because of the steep increase in taxes. Just because his annual income hits right above that tax bracket, he will be taxed immense amounts of dollars, and not be able to provide for the children and family he currently provides for. As far as my tuition goes, at this point my father can not even afford more than half of my tuition. The rest is being paid for in personal loans I am taking out for myself. I have never met a more brilliant and hard-working man than my father, yet he never gets the recognition or compensation he deserves. If Obama is elected, millions of families across the United States will be facing the same issues my family is facing, and consequently millions of students will be forced to drop out of school. When you don't have the money to pay for college, you simply DONT have the money. There is no way around it.
I am sick and tired of celebrities campaigning for Obama simply because they want to see someone of color in the oval office. I completely understand the desire, but refuse to let color be a deciding factor in my 2008 presidential vote. THIS IS OUR COUNTRY we are talking about. If Obama is elected, we will all be in for a rude awakening. Then the American people will be forced to look around and say, "I voted for this." The American people will be held responsible for the mistakes Obama will make. In four or eight years... I think he would be a suitable candidate. He is too young, has not had enough experience, and is like a six year old trying to please everyone he comes across. It seems this candidate would say anything for your vote.
Our future leaders are the ones at risk here. Few will be able to afford school with the tax increase. Consequently we will be left with a less educated America, and a disastrous economy.

Sure Obama has George Clooney campaigning and doing campaign fund raising for him in Switzerland.

Obama gives a speech in Germany where he denigrated the USA and called himself a citizen of the world.

Well pump it up Obama, go Campaign in Cuba, Russia, and China while you are it. Are you running for president of the US, or Secretary General of the UN?

Obama disgusts me.

Obama would likely make an exception for movie stars to save them from the tax increases, as Clinton did.

I bet he's already promised them that.

Why not suggest a windfall profits tax on Hollywood?

Every one who thinks making over $250k/yr with tax rates the same as the Clinton years is hard living has NEVER made over $250k/yr.

It always amazes me how many poor people will defend a party that rewards their bosses but leaves the high and dry.


Hollywood must relay think the average american is some star struck fool, hollywood stars make millions and live a lifestyle that's out of the reach of a majority of americans, anyone who really thinks hollywood stars are paying more then they have to to the tax man is living in a fantasy world, they say they support the president plan to tax the rich so why not just write a check to the IRS to show the rest of us how patriotic they really are, the fact is they know they won't have to pay a dime extra, they just need someone like you to promote their propaganda, which you seem willing to do.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 6, 2008 12:24 AM.

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