George Clooney in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. (NBC)
Actor George Clooney says Bernie Sanders is “absolutely right” to criticize the big-money fundraisers he co-hosted for Hillary Clinton over the weekend.
“I think it’s an obscene amount of money,” Clooney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview that aired Sunday. “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.”
On Saturday, Clooney and his wife hosted a $33,400-per-person fundraiser for the Democratic frontrunner at the couple’s Los Angeles home. On Friday at a fundraiser in San Francisco — where Clinton had asked donors for $353,400 for two seats at the head table with herself, Clooney and his wife, Amal — a group of about 100 protesters demonstrated outside the event, which was held at the home of venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar.
The 54-year-old Academy Award winner said he agreed with them too.
“They’re right to protest,” Clooney said. “They’re absolutely right. It is an obscene amount of money.”
Both events were benefits for the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising effort for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Sanders had called Clinton’s use of people like Clooney “the problem with American politics.”
“It is obscene that Secretary Clinton keeps going to big-money people to fund her campaign,” the Vermont senator said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” last month. “I have a lot of respect for George Clooney. He’s a great actor. I like him. But this is the problem with American politics … Big money is dominating our political system. And [my supporters and I] are trying to move as far away from that as we can.”
Sanders, whose campaign has been largely funded by small donations, says his events usually cost “$15 or $50” to get into.
“So it’s not a criticism of Clooney,” he said. “It’s a criticism of a corrupt campaign finance system, where big money interests — and it’s not Clooney, it’s the people coming to this event — have undue influence on the political process.”
Sanders was asked about Clooney’s “Meet the Press” comments on Sunday’s “State of the Union.”
“I have a lot of respect for George Clooney’s honesty and integrity on this issue,” the senator said. “He is right. 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.”
Sanders was also asked if he feels Clooney is “backing the wrong horse.”
“Well, I think he is,” Sanders said. “But he is honest enough to say that there is something wrong when few people, in this case wealthy individuals, but in other instances for the secretary, it is Wall Street and powerful special interests, who are able to contribute unbelievably large sums of money. That’s not what democracy is about.”