Clooney condemns ‘obscene amount of money’ he raised for Clinton

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( – Democrat Hillary Clinton spent part of her weekend in California, where George and Amal Clooney hosted two fundraisers for her, including one in San Francisco where some supporters paid as much as $353,000 per couple.

“Do you look at it yourself and think that’s an obscene amount of money?” Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” asked Clooney in an interview taped between the two weekend fundraisers.

“Yes. I think it’s an obscene amount of money,” Clooney agreed.

Clooney mentioned that protesters turned up in San Francisco, some of them reportedly throwing dollar bills at Clooney when he arrived at the fundraiser.

“And they’re right to protest,” the actor said. “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 kind of money in politics. I agree completely.”

Clooney said he walked over to talk to the protesters, and one called him a “corporate shill,” which is “one of the funnier things you could say about me,” he told Chuck Todd.

“And then he just said, ‘You sucked as Batman,’ and I was like, ‘Well, you kind of got me on that one.’ And then I walked away.”

Clooney, a Clinton supporter, said her campaign has “not been very good at explaining” that 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, it’s going to the congressmen and senators to try to take back Congress.

“And 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. And that’s why I’m doing it.”

Clooney said he doesn’t enjoy doing fund-raisers, and he doesn’t think anyone else does, either: “It’s not the most fun thing to do,” he said, noting that he spends a lot of his time raising “millions and millions of dollars” for his own foundation, which looks for money hidden by “corrupt politicians” around the world.

Clooney said he doesn’t think the big-dollar donors are paying for access to an eventual President Clinton.

“I actually don’t think that’s true. I think there is a difference between the (Republican) 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 no — 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 and the congressmen and the gubernatorial races and local races. And so our job is to try and counter that in some way.”

Asked why he’s backing Clinton over Bernie Sanders, Clooney said he’s worked with Clinton, the former Secretary of State, in Sudan.

“But I want to say this. I really like Bernie. I think his — what he’s saying in this election is important if you’re a Democrat, again, to have these conversations. I hope he stays in for the entire election.

“And if he were to win the nomination, I will do whatever I can, including, if asked, a fund-raiser like this — again, to try to keep bringing — to try to give him or her…a Senate, because honestly, we see what happens when a president tries to get their Supreme Court justice confirmed without the Senate.”

Bernie Sanders on Sunday said he respects Clooney’s “honestly and integrity” on the subject of money in politics:

“He is right,” Sanders told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “One of the great tragedies of American life today is the degree to which big money is buying elections, in which elected officials become responsive to the needs of Wall Street and wealthy campaign contributors, rather than the needs of ordinary people.

“And…I’m so proud that in this campaign we have now raised almost seven million individual contributions averaging $27 apiece. That is unprecedented in American history.”

Sanders repeatedly has called for overturning Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that said corporations and unions could spend unlimited money on elections as long as they do not donate directly to a candidate’s campaign. The ruling overturned much, but not all, of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act.

“But this is the issue of American politics today,” Sanders continued. “Do we have a government that represents all of us or just the 1 percent? And you’re not going to have a government that represents all of us so long as you have candidates like Secretary Clinton being dependent on big-money interests.”

Even Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the Democrat Party chair, condemned big money in politics:

“Absolutely. We agree as a party that there is an obscene amount of money in politics and that’s why our members — I’m a cosponsor, along with many of my colleagues — of a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United,” she told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

— Written by Susan Jones