Hollywood won big this week, as Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to fork over $330 million per year to subsidize film and TV production. This did not seem like a sure thing as recently as last fall, when Sen. Ron Calderon was caught allegedly taking $60,000 in bribes from an independent film producer who wanted to expand the film tax credit.
But the scandal turned out to be a speed bump. It didn't dampen the enthusiasm in Sacramento for handing out public money to film studios. And it certainly didn't stop Hollywood from handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars to lawmakers in the form of (perfectly legal) campaign contributions.
After the jump, a rundown of who took how much from Hollywood.
Jerry Brown: $632,700
Hollywood's largesse has been lavished on Brown, who was the key decision-maker on this issue. Brown is running for re-election. The governor's race has a very high contribution limit, at $27,200, which allowed the entertainment industry to go big. Contributors include all of the “Big Six” studios — Sony, Paramount, Disney, NBC Universal, Fox, and Warner Brothers — plus the Motion Picture Association of America, the Directors Guild of America, IATSE, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg.
Kevin De Leon: $35,125
De Leon, the incoming Senate president pro tem, turned out to be a pivotal figure in the tax credit debate. De Leon's support for expanding the credit was never in doubt, but he caused entertainment execs some heartburn when, in the final weeks of the session, he insisted on scrapping the lottery system. As chair of the Appropriations Committee, he had the clout to make sure it got done his way. As a state senator, De Leon's contributions are capped at $4,100. Several industry figures gave the maximum, including Spielberg and his wife, and Katzenberg and his wife.
Bonus points to the Entertainment Union Coalition, which gave the maximum to De Leon and to Steve Veres, a De Leon deputy who is running for L.A. City Council. That sort of gesture can go a long way.
Mike Gatto: $18,164
Raul Bocanegra: $13,100
You'd think the guys who authored the bill would get the most money, but life in Sacramento is not fair. These two assemblymen probably did more work than any other elected officials to ensure expansion of the film tax credit. And yes, they got a few thousand bucks from the big studios. But compared to De Leon, they got screwed.
L.A.'s mayor won the 2013 election with lots of support from the entertainment industry. But this year, he's not running for anything. What's a studio executive to do? Disney gave $1 million to the mayor's Summer Night Lights and Hire L.A. Youth programs. Disney is also a contributor to the “Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles,” a new non-profit to back the mayor's initiatives.
It's also never too late to contribute to a winning candidate. Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, who supported Wendy Greuel during the campaign, got right with Garcetti by contributing the maximum six months after the election was over.
At least, let's hope it was David Geffen. Maybe it was an undercover FBI agent.
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