Following a long week in the key primary state of Iowa, meeting with hundreds of voters on a bus tour and state fair festivities, Kamala Harris is back in the big-dollar fundraising game -- this time with filmmaker Spike Lee.
The acclaimed Hollywood director and his wife Tonya Lewis Lee will be hosting a sold out fundraiser for Harris at their home in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts Friday evening, picking up the baton where the California senator’s long queue of celebrity money boosters had left off last month. And the support from the influential African-American film producer, actor and writer comes as Harris, the only Black woman running for president, struggles to register with African-American voters compared to some of her rivals in recent polling.
This isn’t the first time Lee has thrown himself into politics -- he was a big bundler for Barack Obama’s campaign back in 2012, hosting a $38,000 per ticket fundraiser, The Hollywood Reporter reported at that time. And during the 2016 presidential election, Lee endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders and even featured in one of his radio ads, saying “my brother Bernie Sanders” will do “the right thing.”
Ticket price for Lee’s Friday evening fundraiser ranges between $100 and $2,800, and the co-chair is obligated to raise $10,000 and co-host $5,000, according to the event invite.
The California senator, whose husband is a partner at an entertainment law firm, has been tapping into multiple celebrity-filled fundraisers in the city using her deep ties in the Golden State to fuel her support. Last month, actor Ron Silverman, Playboy Enterprises chief Cooper Hefner and film producer Ellen Goldsmith-Vein hosted a fundraiser for Harris, and followed by another fundraiser with music producer Scooter Braun, where Harris was seen in a friendly photo with pop stars Katy Perry, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato.
“She already has the California connections,” Harris’ bundler Sue LaVaccare told ABC News when asked what attracts Hollywood’s rich and famous to Harris.
“She’s a very kind and warm person, but she’s also skilled and strong,” LaVaccare said. “We’ve seen her questioning people in the Judiciary Committee in the Senate. You’ve seen her skills when she’s debating and she’s coming up with policies.”
Next Thursday, actress Jessica Alba, her husband Cash Warren and a slew of Hollywood film producers will be co-hosting another fundraiser for Harris at the Los Angeles home of Hollywood power broker Michael Kives and his wife Lydia, with a ticket price upward of $1,000.
But LaVaccare says entertainment executives are keeping their options open -- because few people want to be left out of the eventual nominee's inner circle. Other candidates, the city has been buzzing about include South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Cory Booker and former Vice President Joe Biden. Earlier this year, Katy Perry and actor Orlando Bloom hosted a fundraiser for Buttigieg, and Kives is expected to host more fundraisers for both Buttigieg and Booker (and Perry is expected to be at Kives' fundraiser for Buttigieg). Biden earlier this year also attended a fundraiser by media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s 2020 endorsement tracker, Harris has received the majority of the endorsements so far from California, and the majority of the endorsements from California so far has gone to Harris.
Hopping from one celebrity fundraiser to another, Harris has raked in more than $688,000 from individuals in the television, movie and music industry so far this year, including $87,000 from the Walt Disney company and more than $53,000 from Warner Bros, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ analysis of campaign finance reports.
That doesn’t mean she has been leaving out traditional government influences -- Harris has also been diligently meeting with wealthy corporate executives and power brokers that had backed Obama and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Before making her way to Spike Lee’s fundraiser, Harris made an appearance at another reception Friday afternoon at the home of wealthy Massachusetts real estate developers Nancy and Dick Friedman, who had bundled money for the Clinton campaign in 2016. And later that weekend, Harris will make a visit to the Hamptons for two fundraisers, one of which will be hosted by public relations big name Michael Kempner, who had bundled millions of dollars for Obama and Clinton’s campaigns.