Hollywood Figures, Unions Give to Democratic Political Groups

Hollywood producer Steve Bing was the biggest donor to two political groups raising money to elect Democrats to Congress and keep President Barack Obama in the White House next year.

Bing gave $250,000 to the Majority PAC, which supports Democrats for the U.S. Senate, and $150,000 to American Bridge 21st Century, which is supporting other like-minded groups with opposition research. He is a longtime friend of former President Bill Clinton, father of a child with actress Elizabeth Hurley and founder of Los Angeles-based Shangri-La Industries, which develops real estate and makes films.

Bing joins other Hollywood figures, unions and some investors in giving to the pro-Democrat independent groups in the first half of the year, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The groups, only some of which disclose their donors, have raised more than $10 million to help re-elect Obama and to add to the Democratic ranks in Congress. Majority PAC raised $1.25 million in the first half of 2011, while American Bridge 21st Century and its affiliated foundation raised $3.07 million.

Two other pro-Democrat groups -- Priorities USA Action, founded by Bill Burton, a former White House spokesman, and Sean Sweeney, a former senior White House adviser -- and the House Majority PAC haven’t filed their mid-year reports with the FEC.

J.J. Abrams, who produced the television series “Lost,” gave $37,500 to American Bridge. Sandor Straus, an investment manager at Merfin LLC, wrote the group a check for $50,000.

Labor Support

The Service Employees International Union donated a combined $300,000 to the two groups, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees contributed $100,000 to American Bridge.

Priorities USA Action, which discloses its donors, and Priorities USA, an affiliate that keeps its contributors’ names secret, have raised a combined total of more than $5 million since April, the group said in a release yesterday. They set a combined goal of raising $100 million for the 2012 campaign season to counter similar efforts by Republicans including billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries Inc., who spent millions in the 2010 midterms to elect Republicans.

The Democratic organizations, operating independently of individual campaigns and the Democratic National Committee, will copy the tactics used by Republican strategist Karl Rove and his allies last year when the Republican Party won control of the House of Representatives and gained six seats in the Senate. The Democratic groups will meet regularly to share information and resources and to target their political advertising at races where it would have greatest impact.

American Crossroads, the group advised by Rove, said in June that it raised $3.8 million in the first half of the year. That doesn’t include the money raised by its sister non-profit, Crossroads GPS, which is spending $20 million on television ads criticizing Obama’s economic policies and the $14.3 trillion U.S. debt. Rove has set a goal of taking in $120 million for 2012.

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