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 TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary 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.

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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 MooreSessions hits back at Trump days ahead of Alabama Senate runoff Judge allows Roy Moore lawsuit over Sacha Baron Cohen prank to proceed Senate outlook slides for GOP 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 SandersBernie SandersChris Wallace: Trump struggling with attacks on 'shape-shifter' Harris Kamala Harris: The outreach Latinos need Biden and Harris seen as more moderate than Trump and Pence: poll 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 ZinkeTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog | Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service | Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog 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 ScaliseWin by QAnon believer creates new headaches for House GOP Scott Fitzgerald wins Wisconsin GOP primary to replace Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner GOP leaders go into attack mode against Harris MORE (La.) a “f---ing liar” after the House successfully passed its tax-reform bill and tweeting that Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump slams 'rogue' Sasse after criticism of executive actions Wary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey 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 Swalwell'This already exists': Democrats seize on potential Trump executive order on preexisting conditions Swalwell: Barr has taken Michael Cohen's job as Trump's fixer The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Chris Christie says Trump team wasn't aggressive enough early in COVID-19 crisis; Tensions between White House, Fauci boil over 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 ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records 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 IssaHarris endorses Democrat in tight California House race Democrats go big on diversity with new House recruits GOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order 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 McClintockHouse votes to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Cook shifts 20 House districts toward Democrats Democrats start cracking down on masks for lawmakers MORE, respectively.

But Sacca also backed incumbents, including two senators running for reelection in states that Trump won: Sens. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson Trump, facing trouble in Florida, goes all in NASA names DC headquarters after agency's first Black female engineer Mary W. Jackson NASA, SpaceX and the private-public partnership that caused the flight of the Crew Dragon MORE (D-Fla.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownWhat Trump's orders will and won't do for payroll taxes, unemployment benefits Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw MORE (D-Ohio). And he sent money to two Democratic senators who are considered potential 2020 presidential candidates, Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandIn the next relief package Congress must fund universal COVID testing Expanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic MORE (D-N.Y.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOn The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Booker hits back at Trump tweet, mocks misspelling of name 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)