UPDATE: An earlier version of this post implied that Friends of Abe had raised money for California GOP candidates, which is not the case. We apologize for the mistake.
In the giant morass of Hollywood leftism, there is a small - but growing - group of conservatives doing its best to sway the utter one-sidedness of celebrity politics.
The group, known as the Friends of Abe, includes a number of well-known A-list personalities, some of them renowned for their outside-the-mainstream (in their line of work) politics. Kelsey Grammar, Gary Sinese, Dennis Miller, and Jon Voight among them.
But though the group is small, secretive, and far less influential than its political-professional counterpart (the rest of Hollywood), "conservative frustration with the Democratic control of Washington might be helping them flourish," according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Indeed, as politicians on both sides of the aisle court such nontraditional groups as the Tea Party and Netroots, the conservative Hollywood clique is hoping for real relevance as Election Day nears.
At the group's large mid-June gathering at a Ventura County horse ranch, Friends of Abe's growing membership mingled with California GOP contenders Carly Fiornia, running to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Meg Whitman, who is taking on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown. [Note: a previous version of this post incorrectly implied that the event was held to raise funds for Fiorina and Whitman.]
About a thousand people shelled out $200 each to attend, but sources said much of the night's estimated $200,000 take went to cover expenses and catering.
Fiorina received a rousing ovation when she was introduced, but applause doesn't cost money. Cash for television buys is especially important in the large state of California -- during one week in May, candidates spent $10 million.
"Obviously, the FOA folks will vote for GOP candidates like Carly and Meg Whitman," an attendee who requested anonymity said. "But I haven't heard the sound of many wallets opening."
The stakes are as high as ever: Fiorina is battling for Democrat Barbara Boxer's Senate seat, and former eBay CEO Whitman is up against Jerry Brown in the governor race. Both Democratic opponents are among the right's favorite punching bags. What's more, field polls released a month ago saw both races locked in statistical dead heats, with the Dems holding only tiny leads within the margin of error. (A Public Policy Institute of California poll last week also noted the tight races.)
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks national candidates, Boxer received $677,000 from the movie, TV and music industries, while Fiorina's take from showbiz donors is so small, it doesn't even register in her Top 20 ranking of business contributors (not surprisingly, her top donors come from the securities and investment industry). The National Institute on Money in State Politics, the only independent organization that tracks donations to gubernatorial races, calculated that -- at least through March 17, the most recent available numbers -- Brown received $330,000 from entertainment industry sources and Whitman's take from the sector was $45,000.