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 TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it 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 MooreSen. Doug Jones launches reelection bid in Alabama Flake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona Omar shares anonymous death threat, speaks out against 'hate' and need for security 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 SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Krystal Ball calls on Sanders to follow Yang's lead on war on drugs Buttigieg calls Warren 'evasive' on Medicare for all 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 ZinkeInterior gains new watchdog The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks BLM issues final plan for reduced Utah monument 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 ScaliseScalise blasts Democratic legislation on gun reforms Liz Cheney calls for 'proportional military response' against Iran On The Money: Senate panel scraps vote on key spending bill amid standoff | Democrats threaten to vote against defense bill over wall funding | Trump set to meet with aides about reducing capital gains taxes MORE (La.) a “f---ing liar” after the House successfully passed its tax-reform bill and tweeting that Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas 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 SwalwellDemocrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate 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 ChaffetzHouse Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke GOP senators decline to criticize Acosta after new Epstein charges 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 IssaIssa's Senate confirmation hearing delayed over concerns about background check The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate Issa says he will run for Congress if not confirmed to trade post by Nov. 3 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 McClintockMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Live coverage: Mueller testifies before Congress 58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill MORE, respectively.

But Sacca also backed incumbents, including two senators running for reelection in states that Trump won: Sens. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonMedia and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity Al Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 MORE (D-Fla.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Hillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks Senate Democrats want answers on 'dangerous' Amazon delivery system MORE (D-Ohio). And he sent money to two Democratic senators who are considered potential 2020 presidential candidates, Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandTwo years after Maria, Puerto Rico awaits disaster funds Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' MORE (D-N.Y.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Energy: Trump officials formally revoke California emissions waiver | EPA's Wheeler dodges questions about targeting San Francisco over homelessness | 2020 Dems duke it out at second climate forum Two former Congressional Black Caucus chairmen back Biden Strippers, 'Hustlers' and the Democratic debates 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)