Seven of the most politically active celebrities in Trump era

Seven of the most politically active celebrities in Trump era
© Nicole Vas

Celebrities have stepped up their political activities during President TrumpDonald John TrumpArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Alyssa Milano protests Kavanaugh in 'Handmaid's Tale' costume Bomb in deadly Yemen school bus attack was manufactured by US firm: report MORE’s first year in office, putting their money and high profiles behind their favored candidates. Famous actors, musicians and athletes are all coming out in droves to offer a boost to candidates — mostly Democrats — running in special elections or the 2018 midterms.

Most donated money to campaigns, while others used their celebrity to boost their chosen candidates in other ways.

That help often came with a price, though, as rival campaigns used those donations to accuse candidates with famous supporters of losing touch with the average voter.

Here are seven of the most politically active celebrities in the Trump era.

Jimmy Kimmel

The late-night show host upped his national profile last year with his vocal opposition to the president and the GOP agenda.

ADVERTISEMENT
Kimmel’s most prominent moment came over the GOP plan to repeal ObamaCare. Kimmel mounted an aggressive and personal campaign against the plan, which he argued would cut health care for people with pre-existing conditions, like his young son, who has a congenital heart defect that requires regular and expensive care.

Democratic lawmakers pointed to Kimmel’s efforts and the “Jimmy Kimmel test” as one reason why the GOP repeal push has failed so far.

Kimmel’s monologues on gun control, net neutrality and Children’s Health Insurance Program funding also received outsized attention. But the controversy opened him up to criticism from Republicans, who accused him of being misinformed and pushing a partisan agenda.

Kimmel also took on Alabama Republican Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreEx-Sheriff David Clarke describes how he would have stopped anti-fascists in 1930s Germany on 'Who is America' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump to GOP: I will carry you GOP strategist: Trump will be anchor around Republicans' necks in general election MORE, whose campaign for the Senate was roiled by allegations that he pursued relationships with teenage girls decades ago, with one woman saying Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and another accusing him of sexually assaulting her.

Kimmel sparred with the candidate on Twitter, and donated $5,400 to his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, who was ultimately victorious in the special election.

Alyssa Milano

Best known for roles in major television shows like “Charmed” and “Who’s the Boss?,” the actress has never been shy about weighing in on politics. After endorsing Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBoogeywomen — GOP vilifies big-name female Dems RealClearPolitics editor: Moderate Democrats are losing even when they win Sanders tests his brand in Florida MORE (I-Vt.) in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, Milano carried her political activism into 2017 on behalf of two major Democratic special election candidates.

Milano made a public push on behalf of Georgia’s Jon Ossoff (D) ahead of his special election bid to win the contentious House race in Georgia’s 6th District. Milano offered to drive voters to the polls to boost turnout, and donated $2,700 to Ossoff’s effort.

She also campaigned with Montana Democrat Rob Quist, who ran in last year’s House special election to fill the seat left open by Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeSanders tests his brand in Florida Overnight Energy: Court orders EPA to enforce chemical safety rule | Dem says Zinke would 'sell' his grandkids for the oil industry | EPA reportedly poised to unveil climate rule replacement Washington governor says Zinke would 'sell his grandchildren for the oil industry' MORE. Milano appeared at Quist rallies at Montana State University and the University of Montana, and again offered rides to the polls.

But both of her candidates ultimately lost their races, earning the actress some needling from Republicans.

Rosie O’Donnell

O’Donnell has emerged as one of Trump’s top Hollywood foils — no surprise, given their long history of antagonism.

The animosity between the two has gone on for more than a decade, long before Trump entered politics. Their sparring became a central focus of the first GOP debate, where host Megyn Kelly asked why Trump had previously used terms like “fat pigs” and “dogs” to describe women. 

“Only Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump replied, reigniting the feud yet again.

O’Donnell has spent much of the past two years blasting both Trump the candidate and Trump the president, helping to lead an anti-Trump rally outside the White House and regularly tweeting her criticisms about him.

She’s also tangled with House leadership as well, calling House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThree scenarios for how leadership races could play out in the House New Dem ad uses Paterno, KKK, affair allegations to tar GOP leaders Poll: Republicans favor Scalise for Speaker; Dems favor Pelosi MORE (La.) a “f---ing liar” after the House successfully passed its tax-reform bill and tweeting that Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree scenarios for how leadership races could play out in the House New Dem ad uses Paterno, KKK, affair allegations to tar GOP leaders House Dem: Party's aging leaders is 'a problem' MORE (Wis.) will “go straight to hell.”

O’Donnell has also donated more than $32,000 in total to the Democratic National Committee and various congressional campaigns, including those of Jones, Ossoff, Quist, Colorado’s Jason Crow, California’s Mike Levin and Virginia’s Jennifer Wexton.

Rob Reiner

The famous screenwriter looked to turn up the heat on Trump in September when he started The Committee to Investigate Russia, a nonprofit that hopes to raise awareness about the extent of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The group’s advisory board includes a bipartisan smattering of foreign policy experts, including former CIA Directors Michael Hayden and Leon Panetta. Celebrities like Morgan Freeman are also on board.

Reiner is also vocal critic of Trump on Twitter. And Reiner used the premiere of his new movie, “LBJ,” a retrospective on President Lyndon Johnson, to blister Trump in the press.

Reiner has also shown interest in House races, donating $5,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and $2,700 to Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellSwalwell: I would have fired Strzok too California Dem on possible 2020 bid: ‘I’ll make decisions after November about my future’ Top Dems: Trump tweet telling Sessions to end Mueller probe was obstruction of justice MORE’s (D-Calif.) reelection. Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has also blasted the president’s ties to Russia.

John Legend

Legend and his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, have not shied away from criticizing Trump over the past year on issues like the NFL protests and the GOP health-care plan.

Earlier this year, the singer said during an interview with CNN that Trump is “misguided, unprepared, bigoted and is not going to be good for the country.”

Teigen hasn’t been shy with her criticism either — she posted a picture on Twitter over the summer that appeared to show that Trump had blocked her on the social media platform.

Legend (who donates under his given name, John Stephens), donated more than $29,000 in 2017, including a $5,000 donation to the DNC.

He sent the maximum donation to Ossoff, Quist, Levin and fellow Californian Katie Porter, as well as Utah’s Kathryn Allen. Allen ran unsuccessfully to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzMatt Schlapp: Trump's policies on Russia 'two or three times tougher than anything' under Obama Tucker Carlson: Ruling class cares more about foreigners than their own people Fox's Kennedy chides Chaffetz on child migrants: 'I’m sure these mini rapists all have bombs strapped to their chests' MORE’s (R-Utah) resignation, while Levin and Porter are running in crowded Democratic primaries for the chance to unseat California Republican Reps. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaDems eyeing smaller magic number for House majority Dems make big play for House in California Clinton maxes out to 19 Democratic House candidates MORE and Mimi Walters, respectively.

Legend also donated to former Obama administration official Andy Kim (D-N.J.), the Democratic campaign group Swing Left and Randy Bryce, the Wisconsin ironworker looking to unseat Ryan.

Jon Cryer

The “Two and a Half Men” co-star may not be as vocal as some of the other celebrities on this list, but he spent 2017 doling out cash to Democratic groups and candidates.

Cryer sent $6,000 to the House Majority PAC, the main super PAC helping Democrats try to take back the House. And he sent almost $22,000 to Democratic congressional candidates including Jones, Ossoff and Quist, as well as Katie Hill, an anti-homelessness activist who is running in a competitive Democratic primary to take on Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.).

Before the 2016 elections, most of Cryer’s political giving went to state Democratic parties, instead of individual candidates.

The actor’s social media is decidedly critical of Trump and some other GOP lawmakers, but he’d previously kept his cards close to the chest. He did not publicly disclose his pick in the 2012 presidential elections, with a spokeswoman telling The Hill that year that he “wanted to hear what both sides had to say.”

Chris Sacca

As a venture capitalist and frequent guest on ABC’s “Shark Tank” reality show, Sacca has a history of trying to put his own money behind a company he supports. That appears to be the same tack he takes towards political campaigns.

Sacca donated more than $42,000 to candidates in 2017. He donated to some well-known candidates, including the special election campaigns of Quist and Ossoff, as well as Bryce’s bid in Wisconsin and Levin’s campaign in California. He also gave cash to two other California Democrats, Brian Forde and Regina Bateson, who are running to unseat Walters and her fellow GOP Rep. Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockElection Countdown: Takeaways from too-close-to-call Ohio special election | Trump endorsements cement power but come with risks | GOP leader's race now rated as 'toss-up' | Record numbers of women nominated | Latino candidates get prominent role in 2020 GOP scrambles to regain fiscal credibility with House budget House panel approves belated 2019 budget MORE, respectively.

But Sacca also backed incumbents, including two senators running for reelection in states that Trump won: Sens. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDem campaign chairman expresses confidence over path to Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints MORE (D-Fla.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s GOP feuds dominate ahead of midterms Dustbin 2020: The best Dems who surely won’t get the nomination Vulnerable Dems side with Warren in battle over consumer bureau MORE (D-Ohio). And he sent money to two Democratic senators who are considered potential 2020 presidential candidates, Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand: 'Solely focused' on 2018, not potential 2020 White House bid Sunday shows preview: Trump stokes intel feud over clearances Boogeywomen — GOP vilifies big-name female Dems MORE (D-N.Y.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker2020 hopefuls skeptical of criminal justice deal with Trump Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Bernie Sanders socialism moves to Democratic mainstream MORE (D-N.J.).

 

Celebrity political donations in the Trump era

Jimmy Kimmel:  $5,400

Alyssa Milano:  $2,700

John Legend:  $29,200

Chris Sacca:  $42,800

Rosie O’Donnell:  $32,649

Jon Cryer:  $27,880

Rob Reiner:  $7,700

(All data per FEC database as of Jan 2 and media reports)