George Clooney Blames His Fundraiser on Citizens United, Kochs

I think [Citizens United is] the worst -- one of the worst laws passed since I have been around … and so our job is to try and counter that in some way,” stated movie star and Democrat fundraiser George Clooney. Clooney appeared to be in blame shifting mode Sunday on Meet The Press, following a massive uproar after a highly exclusive fundraising event he held for Hillary Clinton in his L.A. home.

Host Chuck Todd prodded Clooney on his thoughts about the cost of his event, “I think the cost of the Friday night dinner, $353,000 a couple, to be a co-chair. Do you look at it and think that's an obscene amount of money?” To which Clooney responded:

Yes. I think it's an obscene amount of money. I think that you know we had some protesters last night when we pulled up in San Francisco. And they're right to protest. They're absolutely right. It is an obscene amount of money. The Sanders campaign when they talk about it is absolutely right. It's ridiculous that we should have this money in politics I agree completely.

Sanders supporters crashed the event by holding a protest outside and threw dollar bills a Clinton’s motorcade as it drove past them.

Clooney also pointed blame at the Clinton campaign saying they needed to do a much better job explaining the situation. “This is the truth. The overwhelming amount of money that we're raising and it is a lot, but the overwhelming amount of the money that we're raising is not going to Hillary to run for president. It's going to the down ticket.” Clooney claimed they needed the agreed “obscene amount of money” to combat Republicans and take back the Senate so they could nominate a liberal Supreme Court justice. Clooney dreamed of a day when Democrats would rule the Senate saying, that with a liberal high court Citizens United would be over turned and he wouldn’t have to do fundraisers anymore.

To drive his point home he invoked the Democrat’s evil campaign finance specter the Koch brother. The “Koch brothers would profit if they get their way and that's what -- you know, we have -- there's no profit for us in this … and so our job is to try and counter that in some way.

In a shocking development network news broadcasters ABC and NBC both covered Clooney admitting the amount of money was obscene. Good Morning America reporter David Wright reported that the Sanders campaign held a counter fundraising event. “Last night, the Sanders people held their own fundraiser down the street at the home of the guy who founded the 99-cent store. Tickets were $27.”

Instead of pointing out the difference in fundraising events over the weekend NBC’s new Sunday show Sunday Today played defense for Clinton. Reporter Kristen Welker, who covers the Clinton campaign, played it off as an old-fashioned thing she needs to do for the campaign. “Secretary Clinton still has to raise money the old-fashioned way, right? She has to go to the high dollar fund-raisers whereas Senator Sanders can raise millions of dollars in small dollar donations online

Transcripts below: 

NBC
Meet The Press
April 17, 2016
10:33:03 AM Eastern

CHUCK TODD: [Bernie] Sanders of course has made opposing Wall Street and money in politics the centerpiece of his campaign. I got a chance yesterday to talk to George Clooney from his home outside of L.A. And he was open and candid about what he thought about all the money that is pouring into campaigns at events like the one he hosted. 

[Cut to video]

Mr. Clooney, welcome to Meet The Press.

GEORGE CLOONEY: Thank you, chuck.

TODD: Let me start with dinner -- you co-hosted on Friday night. Big fund-raiser I know that you have planned for later tonight. Do you look at -- at how much is being raised and I think the cost of the Friday night dinner, $353,000 a couple, to be a co-chair. Do you look at it and think that's an obscene amount of money? 

CLOONEY: Yes. I think it's an obscene amount of money. I think that you know we had some protesters last night when we pulled up in San Francisco. And they're right to protest. They're absolutely right. It is an obscene amount of money. The Sanders campaign when they talk about it is absolutely right. It's ridiculous that we should have this money in politics I agree completely.

TODD: You know, it’s interesting. Our camera caught you having a conversation with the protesters last night. What did you say to them? 

Tell the Truth 2016

CLOONEY: Well, it was a funny thing. I tried to talk to them and he said I was some corporate shill which, you know me, that's one of the funnier things you would say about me. And then he just said ‘you sucked at Batman,” and I like, “you kind of got me on that one.” Then I walked away. That was -- that was basically it. 

But, you know -- I think what's important -- what I think the Clinton campaign has not been very good at explaining is this. This is the truth. The overwhelming amount of money that we're raising and it is a lot, but the overwhelming amount of the money that we're raising is not going to Hillary to run for president. It's going to the down ticket. Going to the congressmen and senators to try to take back congress. 

The reason that's important and the reason it's important to me is because we need -- I'm a Democrat, so if you’re a republican you’re going to disagree. But we need to take the senate back because we need to confirm a Supreme Court justice, because that fifth vote on the Supreme Court can overturn citizens united and get this obscene, ridiculous amount of money out so I never have to do a fund-raiser again. That's while doing it. 

TODD: So you don't enjoy doing these fund-raisers? 

CLOONEY: No, I don't anybody does. I don't even think politicians do. You know, I'm sure you have covered them before. It's not the most— It’s not the most fun thing to do. I spend probably a quarter of my time now raising millions and millions of dollars to fund my foundation which is basically chasing and looking for money that these corrupt politicians all around the world are hiding. The Panama papers have been actually incredibly helpful. We have forensic accountants. So, this is all a very big part of things that are important to me. I really want Citizens United-- I think it's the worst -- one of the worst laws passed since I have been around. 

10:36:27 AM

TODD: Do you think people that are coming to your event, tonight and went last night, that they -- that they think they will get extra access to a president Clinton? To a President Clinton?

CLOONEY: No. I actually don't think that's true. I think there is a difference between the Koch brothers and us. You know? The difference is, if I succeed -- if we succeed in electing an entire congress, which would be quite a success, but a senate and a president. You know, the tax policies that they would enact would probably cost us a lot more money quite honestly. 

The Koch brothers would profit if they get their way and that's what -- you know, we have -- there's no profit for us in this. You know, understanding this. The Koch brothers have said they're going to spend $900 million not on the presidency. But on the down ticket. On the senators, the congressmen, and the gubernatorial race and the local races, and so our job is to try and counter that in some way. 

ABC
Good morning America
April 17, 2016
8:12:44 AM Eastern

Hillary Clinton campaigned in California. The crowd there mostly enthusiastic. 

CLINTON: It's not enough to say what's wrong. You gotta tell people what you're gonna do to make it right. 

WRIGHT: But, a few protesters, apparently Sanders supporters, crashed Clinton’s fund-raiser last night at George Clooney's L.A. residence where tickets were $30,000 apiece. The protesters threw dollar bills at Clinton's motor cade.  [“We're in the money” played]

Even the host of the Clinton fund-raiser, George Clooney, admits that $33,000 a ticket is an obscene amount of money. Last night, the Sanders people held their own fund raiser down the street at the home of the guy who founded the 99-cent store. Tickets were $27. [Laughter]

NBC
Sunday Today
April 17, 2016
8:02:57 AM Eastern 

GEIST: Thank you. It is such a weird dynamic right now in the race that you're covering. You have one candidate who’s in California hanging out with the Clooneys and another who is at the Vatican with the pope, what does it tell you about the race right now? 

WELKER: Well, look, I think it tells us a couple of things, first of all, Secretary Clinton still has to raise money the old-fashioned way, right? She has to go to the high dollar fund-raisers whereas Senator Sanders can raise millions of dollars in small dollar donations online, we have seen him do this consistently every month. Actually outpacing Secretary Clinton. 

It allows him to make the case that she is the establishment candidate, that he's the true Progressive, that he's the one who is really going to fight to get money out of politics. But the bottom line, Willie, it is not clear that what happens, those differenting optics that you mentioned are really going to impact the race here in New York. Polls show Secretary Clinton still has a double digit lead here. 

What could happen, though, Senator Sanders up with some tough new ads in California, slamming money in politics. So, could it hurt her in a state where you have more progressive, more left leaning voters. That is the question. 

And one more point, Willie. I think the fact that senator Sanders decided to go to the Vatican underscores that he probably thinks the cake is baked here in New York as well. This is obviously a deeply personal decision for him. He got to meet with the pope, but at the same time, he did give up some critical campaign time here in New York, so he probably thinks that it’s likely he's not going to win here and that's what his campaign aides have underscored for me. 

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