Jeffrey Katzenberg Rescues Democratic Fundraising in Hollywood With More Than $2 Million in Donations

The mogul and his wife have donated $2.28 million to make up for diminished funds amid actors’ and writers’ strikes

Jeffrey Katzenberg and Joe Biden
Jeffrey Katzenberg and President Joe Biden (Jesse Grant/Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

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With dual strikes on, Democratic politicians have been conspicuously avoiding the usual backyard fundraisers on L.A.’s Westside — nobody wants to be photographed hobnobbing with studio execs in the middle of a Hollywood labor dispute.

To address the drought, enter Jeffrey Katzenberg — Hollywood’s top political donor and, apparently for now, fundraising fixer. Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn, were dependable industry political givers to begin with, but their donations have taken on new urgency this cycle. 

As of the last reporting period for the 2024 elections, the couple this year had donated a total of $2.28 million — the kind of money that would have been raised in the Los Angeles area pre-strike at a well-attended evening of fundraising.

The Katzenbergs, who declined to comment for this article, have given $889,600 to the Biden Victory Fund and $41,300 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to campaign finance reports. Jeffrey Katzenberg, recently named co-chair of Biden’s reelection campaign, also gave $250,000 to the Senate Majority PAC.  

Keeping the Democrats funded at a time when the town is crippled by two strikes was an obvious choice for Katzenberg, especially with Donald Trump in the race.

“Jeffrey is not on board one-hundred percent,” United Talent Agency vice chairman Jay Sures, a longtime Hollywood political fundraiser, told TheWrap. “He’s on board five-thousand percent. He’s stepping up because he believes so strongly in the cause. And he believes that Joe Biden’s record should speak for itself.”

Katzenberg’s loyalty to the party transcends decades.

According to the latest Federal Elections Committee records, Katzenberg is on record for making 1,776 contributions to federal political candidates and committees since 1979. (His first contribution, $600, was to Sen. Ted Kennedy’s 1980 presidential bid, according to the FEC.)

He was an early supporter of Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential bid in 2007 during a time when the town was split in its allegiances between Obama and then Sen. Hillary Clinton. While the Republicans sought to undermine Obama by giving massive donations to shadowy super PACs, Katzenberg answered with a series of  donations — totaling $5 million — to the Democrats’ Priorities USA. 

Since the Writers Guild of America strike started in May, followed by the SAG-AFTRA strike in July, politicians have put their visits to Los Angeles on hold.     

“There’s a reason why a lot of the restaurants are empty,” said Sures. “It’s because people are being mindful of their spending during these very, very uncertain times. And one of the consequences of that is going to be less campaign giving.”

At this point in his reelection campaign, it would have been de rigueur for Biden to have made at least a few stops in Los Angeles to collect cash from the infamous Hollywood ATM.

Another problem: The town is beset by “donor fatigue,” one fundraiser told TheWrap, suggesting that boredom with Biden was to blame.

“They’re not opening their pocketbooks like they used to,” the fundraiser said. “If they had their choice, Biden would not be their choice.”

Obama faced a similar issue when he launched his reelection campaign in 2011. One Hollywood fundraiser described the effort to raise cash for the president’s second term as “tough, tough, tough.”  Some thought Obama would have been more progressive. Others complained that he tried too hard to compromise with Republicans.

But eventually, Hollywood donors got on board for Obama. Sures is confident they will do the same for Biden, especially with Katzenberg at the helm.

“Joe Biden’s record should speak for itself. And he will be the nominee. It’s better to get behind him earlier than later,” Sures said.

For all of TheWrap’s WGA strike coverage, read here.