Some of Hollywood’s biggest left-wing stars, including Academy Award winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Jane Fonda, and HBO host Bill Maher have donated to a political committee called Flip the 49th! Neighbors in Action — a campaign to unseat Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) in next year’s election.
According to a list of donors obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune, Fonda gave the group $100,000. Maher contributed $15,000. DiCaprio dished out $2,500 and Cheers alum Ted Danson dolled out $1,500. The list also includes a $2,500 donation from the JDM Foundation, an organization the Union-Tribune notes is funded mostly by its founder, late-night legend Jay Leno.
Formed as a kind of political action committee capable of raising unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, and individuals, but barred from coordinating with candidates, Flip the 49th has trained volunteers on voter registration and door-to-door canvassing ahead of what is expected to be a rough election cycle.
“Hundreds of grassroots activists have been educating voters on issues across the 49th. Our status change marks the beginning of the next phase of our program, which is to tell voters to vote no on Darrell Issa, a national emergency,” spokesman Jeremy Addis-Mills said. “We will continue to work tirelessly to defeat Darrell Issa, one of Congress’s wealthiest members and we call upon patriots from across the country to support our efforts.”
While the group disclosed its donor list to the Union-Tribune several weeks before it’s required to disclose the information to the Federal Election Commission, Rep. Issa’s campaign said the list should’ve been made public sooner.
“Despite all their claims about their commitment to transparency, the story behind the groups never really seemed to add up. We’re only now starting to see a glimpse of who is behind these efforts,” Issa’s spokesman, Calvin Moore, told the Union-Tribune.
The group says some 40 percent of the $440,091 raised from donations came from two of the counties within the boundaries of the congressional district, Orange and San Diego, of which Issa represents.
Flip the 49th co-founder David Lagstein is political director Service Employees International Union Local 221, or SEIU, an organization that has given $25,000 worth of in-kind donations to the anti-Issa group.
Rep. Issa has won his overwhelmingly Republican district decidedly since 2002. He won his 9th term last year, narrowly beating out his Democratic opponent retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate.