California Sen. Kamala Harris has long-standing relationships with major entertainment industry figures in her home state. But former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg are also among the candidates who count celebrities as donors.
So far, few donors are bundling large sums of money for candidates by asking their friends, family and colleagues to give, too. But many have given individually, which is limited under campaign finance law to a $2,800 contribution during the primary election, followed by another $2,800 earmarked for the general election campaign.
Last month, Harris was feted at the Pacific Palisades home of director J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, in a gathering attended by Hollywood powerbrokers, including TV hitmaker Shonda Rhimes. Harris also has received money from Ben Affleck, who gave $2,800; actress Eva Longoria, who gave $5,400; composer Quincy Jones, who gave $2,800; and former Mad Men star Jon Hamm, who gave $1,000.
O’Rourke, a former punk rocker, received $2,800 from a fellow Texan, county music icon Willie Nelson, as well as $1,850 from Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and $2,800 from Dave Matthews Band violinist Boyd Tinsley. He also took in $5,600 from Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, $1,500 from comedian and Breaking Bad actor Bob Odenkirk, $2,500 from Texas film director Richard Linklater and $350 from Saturday Night Live star Cecily Strong.
Sanders received $2,700 from actor and comedian Danny DeVito, $2,800 from actress Susan Sarandon, $2,500 from piano player Norah Jones and $1,000 from Foo Fighters guitarist Christopher Shiflett. Jonathan Fishman, drummer for the jam band Phish, which was formed in Sanders’ home state of Vermont, gave $1,000, while Thomas Middleditch from HBO’s Silicon Valley gave $500, records show.
Buttigieg, whose campaign raked in $7 million after emerging as an unexpected hit, has also started to draw celebrity attention. “West Wing” star Bradley Whitford gave $2,000, actor Ryan Reynolds donated $250, NFL network broadcaster Rich Eisen gave $500 and Game of Thrones executive producer Carolyn Strauss chipped in $250.
Buttigieg also drew at least one contribution from an unusual source. James Murdoch, the son of conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News is closely allied with President Donald Trump, cut Buttigieg a $2,800 donation, records show.