Hollywood pumps cash to candidates – By Judy Kurtz October 31, 2014, 06:00 am

Celebrities are putting on a money-raising show, digging into their wallets in a last ditch effort to help Democrats and Republicans before Election Day.

David Letterman, Ben Affleck, former NFL quarterback John Elway, and “Scandal’s” Shonda Rhimes were among those pitching in to help their candidates of choice with cash right before next week’s midterm elections.

The donations made in this past fundraising cycle are largely being funneled to high-stakes matchups that could either keep the Senate in Democratic hands or tilt it to GOP control.

But in some cases, A-listers may be opening their checkbooks for old pals.

“Late Show” host Letterman was one of several high-profile donors to Sen. Al Franken’s reelection campaign. The Minnesota Democrat had worked to fend off Republican businessman Mike McFadden but is expected to survive.

Franken and Letterman have a long history together — the “Saturday Night Live” alum first appeared on the late-night funnyman’s CBS show back in 1987. Franken has the distinction of being the sole recipient of Letterman’s political dollars over the years. Letterman, who’s retiring in 2015, cut a check for $5,100 this year to Franken, and donated to him twice in 2008, and once in 2011.

The television comedian isn’t the only celeb that Franken has in his star-packed (and humor-filled) fundraising arsenal. With donations from comedy mega-producer Judd Apatow, “Cheers” actor Ted Danson, fellow former “SNL” comic Will Forte, and singer Nancy Sinatra, Franken comes in near the top of the list of candidates for the most money contributed to his campaign by Hollywood.

Article continues:


EXCLUSIVE: Bill Maher on Islam spat with Ben Affleck: “We’re liberals! We’re not crazy tea-baggers” – ELIAS ISQUITH MONDAY, OCT 6, 2014 9:41 PM UTC

Comedian tells Salon about his clash with Affleck, his “Flip a District” effort — and a recent date with Rand Paul

EXCLUSIVE: Bill Maher on Islam spat with Ben Affleck: "We're liberals! We're not crazy tea-baggers"
Ben Affleck and Bill Maher on “Real Time with Bill Maher”  (Credit: HBO)

If you’re just catching up on the weekend’s politics news, there’s one video that you need to see: the contentious and intense moment during Friday night’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” during which the host got into something of a yelling match with guest Ben Affleck over the essential nature of Islam. Maher’s criticism of Islam is nothing new, of course. But seeing A-lister and well-known liberal Ben Affleck directly accuse him of being “gross and racist” showed this disagreement between Maher and other prominent liberals was taking on new levels of acrimony.

Meanwhile, Maher is also running what he calls his “Flip a District” campaign, which now heads to Minnesota, where the comedian will be hosting a non-televised and sold-out panel discussion on Tuesday night as part of his effort to unseat Rep. John Kline. Salon spoke with Maher on Saturday about this effort as well as the other recent headlines he’s made. Our conversation is below, and has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

First off, I wanted to ask you about how you feel the “Flip a District” campaign has been going overall, as well as what you hope to accomplish with the panel event in Minnesota on Tuesday?

Oh, just more of what we’ve been doing, which is trying to get attention to this race — and I feel like it’s picking up steam [like] crazy. It’s amazing, the stuff we hear from the district and how many people are excited about us coming and doing this. I saw an article in [a local] paper the other day that said they think [the district] is flippable.

You know, we have a month, and I said on the show last night that the most surprising element of the whole things to us — and, very sincerely, I’m saying this came as a shock — is that this guy, Kline, isn’t even making any appearances!

We thought all this month we’d be trailing him, getting some footage, seeing what he had to say, using those words against him — there are no words! His whole campaign strategy is to hide and to not even remind people there’s an election. He doesn’t want people to know there’s an election. That should be seen as something horribly insulting to voters.

So I hope that the local media will pick up the ball from there and try to find him. [Laughs] Is he in the witness protection program?

To your point, I actually spoke earlier this year with Wesley Reed, who is running against Rep. Blake Farenthold, who is also on your target list —

Oh, Blake! Yes, we love Blake. We couldn’t do Blake, he was unflippable, but we loved him.

I tried to talk to him, too, and like you were saying, there are a lot of candidates who seemingly are just trying to run out the clock and lie low until the election’s over.

He’s doing the same strategy?

Yeah, they said yes and then I guess they figured out what Salon was because they never got back to me.

It’s such a cynical strategy to depend on the apathy of the voters and how uninformed they are.

Our reporter, Alexandra Pelosi, was in [Rep. Kline’s] district a couple of weeks ago, and she said the most amazing thing she found was that so many people: a) Don’t know there’s an election coming; and b) Don’t know who their representative is.

The only names they really knew were [Rep. Michele] Bachmann and Al Franken — and sometimes they were for both of them just because they had name recognition, which is pretty insane because obviously they’re diametrically opposed, politically.

Do you think of “Flip a District” as something you want to do again in 2016?

I don’t know. I mean, I’m just concentrated on this one. Let’s see what happens here. Maybe this guy will win by 30 points [laughs].

Y’know, he’s kind of making it a race where he’s running against me. That’s what he wants to do. To this day, he has not refuted one thing we’ve said about him. It’s all about — and, again, he doesn’t talk at all, but he speaks through his fundraising emails — it’s all about running against, y’know, “the Hollywood elite,” blah, blah, blah.

But I’m not on the ballot and it’s not supposed to be [about] me, and he doesn’t defend his record because it’s not a very easy record to defend.

I know this campaign is more about a negative endorsement than it is about cheerleading for Mike Obermueller, the Democratic candidate. But have you experienced any people from any of the Democratic campaigns reaching out and asking you to step back because they’re worried their opponent is fundraising off of making you the villain?

No, no. We have no communication with the Democratic campaign — I didn’t even know who [the Democratic candidate] was until I read it in one of Kline’s fundraisers. This is strictly a negative campaign [laughs]. It’s strictly a campaign to oust someone, and my position has always been that I don’t care who the opposition is; he literally couldn’t be worse.

So, look, you mentioned last night’s show. I’m not going to ask you to debate Islam with me; I’m sure you have more than enough people trying to do that with you right now —

Yeah, let’s leave that for a while. I’ve said enough about that.

But I want to ask you how you felt the Ben Affleck/Sam Harris segment went. Did you feel frustrated as it was happening?

Article continues:


Bill Maher and Ben Affleck Battle Over Radical Islam – ” They Will F*cking Kill You! ” – Published on Oct 3, 2014

October 3, 2014 – Ben Affleck, Bill Maher, Nicholas Kristol, Michael Steele, and author Sam Harris got into what could only be described as a tumultuous continuation of Maher’s comments on Islam from last week, with Maher and Affleck tearing into each other over the influence of fundamentalists in the Muslim community. “We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where criticism of the religion gets conflated with bigotry towards muslims as people,” Harris began. “It’s intellectually ridiculous.”

“Hold on — are you the person who officially understands the codified doctrine of Islam?” Affleck, on the show to promote his movie Gone Girl, interrupted, and argued that criticizing Islam, as Maher and Harris were doing it, was “gross and racist. It’s like saying, ‘Oh, you shifty Jew!’”

What follows is a few minutes of Affleck and Maher going at each other and yelling over each other, with the occasional interjection from Kristol and Steele providing intelligent perspective on reformers in the Muslim world, smart statistical analysis from Harris about the spectrum of fundamentalism, and then another few minutes of Affleck and Maher yelling at each other.

“Your argument is, ‘You know, black people, they shoot each other,’” said Affleck.