Hollywood doesn’t like Mitch McConnell, and Alison Grimes gets to reap the benefits

Trying to woo rural Kentucky voters, Alison Lundergan Grimes strains to distance herself from Washington, President Obama and all the insidery politics condemned by folks outside the Beltway.

But beating Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) requires a lot of money, so a candidate can’t afford to be too choosy about whose checks she cashes — even if they’re bound to raise a few eyebrows back home.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Next week, to close out the second quarter, Grimes will rub elbows with Manhattan elites at the Waverly Inn, a see-and-be-seen restaurant in the West Village. The cocktail party in her honor will be hosted by a Hollywood mega-bundler duo, producer Harvey Weinstein and Dreamworks chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Grimes is the 2014 “it” girl. Although the Democrats’ hold on the Senate is tenuous, ousting the would-be majority leader would be quite the coup for the party. The money isn’t just raining in, it’s arriving in a downpour. Grimes outraised McConnell in the last quarter.

Both Weinstein and Katzenberg have donated heavily to PACs working to unseat McConnell, and have given the max contributions to Grimes. Katzenberg co-hosted another event for her in January in Beverly Hills. Last September, singer will.i.am was a special guest at a Kentucky fundraiser for Grimes. That’s the same guy behind Obama’s 2008 campaign anthem, “Yes, We Can.”


L U.S. Senate candidate and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes greets supporters in her campaign headquarters. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“Gone Hollywood” is a classic Republican attack line on Democrats who tend to have a few more friends in Tinseltown than their GOP counterparts. And Grimes, despite her hard stance on environmental regulations and her iffiness on Obamacare, has quite a few famous allies, suggesting the motivation is more about ousting McConnell.

A-listers donating to Grimes as of the end of March include (and there are many more): Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston (meth lord turned LBJ) and Jerry Seinfield.

Naturally, the McConnell camp has seized on this. Grimes paints him as out of touch with the state, and he throws it right back. Allison Moore, McConnell campaign spokeswoman, told the Loop that Grimes will abandon Kentucky “at first sight of the Obama enthusiasts funding her campaign.”

Grimes’s campaign manager, Jonathan Hurst, boasted of cross-party support throughout Kentucky and her “45,000 grass-roots supporters,” and referred to McConnell’s “Washington special interest allies.”

Special interests versus Hollywood elites. . . . Now where have we heard that before?

Name that operation!

President Obama’s announcement Thursday that he is sending hundreds of military advisers to help the Iraqi army — and leaving open the possibility of “targeted and precise military action” — does not have a name, it seems.

Pentagon missions often receive a cool designation. There was Operation Desert Storm in 1991 to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait; Operation Provide Comfort that same year, to deliver relief and protect the Kurds in northern Iraq; Operation Iraqi Freedom, the invasion to kick out Hussein and bring democracy to Iraq from 2003 to 2011.

Then there was Operation Just Cause in Panama in late 1991, to kick out dictator Manuel Noriega. (Some wags started calling it “Just Because.”) And in 1983, we had Operation Urgent Fury, apparently to save some U.S. students in tiny Grenada.

That’s just a small sample.

So far, it doesn’t seem Obama’s plan has a moniker. Loop Fans can help!

Send your suggestions to intheloop@washpost.com. Subject line: Iraq Operation Name. The top 10 winners will receive an official — and highly coveted — “In the Loop” T-shirt.

Be sure to provide your name, profession, mailing address and T-shirt size (M, L or XL), in case you’re a winner. You must also include a phone number — home, work, or, preferably, cell — to be eligible. Submit entries by close of business Friday, June 27.

(Note: there will be 11 winners this time because we got an entry even before we launched the contest. A member of the armed forces, who might not want to be identified, suggested: “Operation Shiite Storm.”)

At the click of a what?

The digital age has been a boon to just about everyone looking for information about just about anything. It’s been especially useful for getting general financial information about government officials, members of Congress and specific salaries of congressional aides.

As Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in McCutcheon v. FEC, a decision in April that allows individuals to send the maximum contribution to as many candidates as they please: “With modern technology, disclosure now offers a particularly effective means of arming the voting public with information.” A 1976 high court ruling on these issues “observed that Congress could regard disclosure as ‘only a partial measure,’ ” Roberts said.

“That perception was understandable in a world in which information about campaign contributions was filed at FEC offices and was therefore virtually inaccessible to the average member of the public.”

But it’s a new day. “Today,” Roberts wrote, “given the Internet, disclosure offers much more robust protections against corruption.” The FEC’s Web site makes information available almost immediately once it’s filed, Roberts noted, and that info now “can be accessed at the click of a mouse,” unlike when earlier cases were decided.

New day, that is, unless you’re looking for the financial disclosure forms of the justices of the Supreme Court.

Our colleague Alice Crites recently got this standard e-mail when she asked for copies of the justices’ financial disclosures for 2013: “Your copies of the available reports will be available for pick-up from this office on Friday, June 20, at 1:00 p.m.”

That’s pretty easy if you live in this area.

“The reproduction cost for the available reports is $18.00,” the e-mail said. “If you have not already done so, you must present the original Form AO-10A with a check or money order for this amount, made payable to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts when you come for your copies of the reports.”

Maybe that’s not exorbitant for the “average member of the public,” but a bit pricey for some folks, especially if they have a right to the information.

Don’t live around here? That’s okay.

“Your copies can also be mailed to you,” the e-mail said. Just send in that form along with your check or money order for $18.00 and “upon receipt, we will send the requested material to you.”

Of course, the public will be able to search online once people start scanning and putting up the printed forms. But still . . .

— With Colby Itkowitz

The blog: washingtonpost.com/intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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