President Obama’s record smashing $15 million “love fest” with actor George Clooney was co-hosted by DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.
“In addition to being the largest single donor to the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA at $2 million, Katzenberg’s company is currently under investigation by the SEC for allegedly bribing Chinese officials,” the Washington Free Beacon reports.
Katzenburger announced in February that DreamWorks had succeeded in locking down a $2 billion deal to open a studio in Shanghai under the Oriental Dreamworks brand. Shortly thereafter, the SEC launched an official investigation.
“The China deal was inked in a ceremony that featured Katzenberg alongside Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who stopped off in Los Angeles in February on his way back to China after a series of high-level meetings at the White House, including meetings with Obama,” WFB reports.
During the aforementioned meeting with XI, Katzenberg was joined by Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The DreamWorks deal involved Xi personally approving the studio, Katzenburger said in a Financial Times interview.
“The SEC investigation seeks to determine whether DreamWorks made illegal payments to Chinese officials in order to obtain the right to produce and distribute their films in the country,” WFB reports.
“While DreamWorks has denied White House involvement in facilitating the deal, reports have confirmed that Biden and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk were personally involved in a parallel negotiation with the Chinese government to increase the number of films that Hollywood studios could release in China’s tightly controlled and censored domestic film market,” the report adds.
And here’s a little background on Katzenberg (via WFB):
Katzenberg has bundled at least $1 million for Obama, including $500,000 for the president’s re-election campaign, in addition to his $2 million contribution to outside groups aligned with the president
Understandably, Katzenburger’s contributions and his connections to top White House officials have caused a couple of people to question whether cronyism played a part in the DreamWorks deal.
The Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan watchdog group, asked if “Katzenberg’s support for Obama [helped] fast-track movie deal with China,” the WFB reports.
The studio refused to provide any response to the organization.
But here’s something interesting: the Foundation reports that DreamWorks “has never registered to lobby the federal government, but the largesse of its CEO has guaranteed access.”