By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 6, 2006
U.S. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is a leading recipient of entertainment-related campaign contributions to members of Congress, a nonpartisan analysis released yesterday shows, even as the senator has been criticizing his Democratic opponent's ties to Hollywood.
Democrat James Webb has helped produce several movies, prompting Allen and his surrogates to portray Webb as an elitist more attuned to what Allen called the "values of Hollywood" than "the values of Virginia."
The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group, said that Allen ranks 16th among members of Congress in campaign contributions received from the entertainment industry during the past two years. Allen has accepted $93,350 since 2004; Webb, $20,650, according to the center.
In campaign fundraising, Allen outpaces Webb by a ratio of 15 to 1.
"There is plenty of data to support that . . . George Allen gets far more money from the entertainment industry than either Jim Webb or nearly anyone who represents the Hollywood area in Congress," said Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the center, which is in Northwest Washington.
The center defines entertainment-related contributions as those from companies and people associated with television, movies and music.
Dick Wadhams, Allen's campaign manager, said the analysis appeared flawed.
Allen's haul includes contributions from executives with Time Warner, News Corp., Comcast, Univision Communications Inc., America Online, Krikorian Premiere Theatres, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Walt Disney Co.
"I classify most of those as communications companies," said Wadhams, who often mocks Webb by adding "wealthy Hollywood movie producer" before his name.
Webb has received donations from filmmaker William Friedkin, producers Rob Reiner and James Jacks, and officials with Playboy Enterprises Inc., Wheeler Television and the International Broadcasting Bureau.
The center's analysis covers contributions received through June 30.
Allen and Webb, a former secretary of the Navy, both traveled to Los Angeles last month for fundraisers.
Webb's connections to Hollywood have emerged as a dominant theme in Virginia's U.S. Senate race.
During the candidates' first debate in July, Allen repeatedly needled Webb about his connections to Hollywood. When referring to Webb's opposition to a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, Allen said, "They may be the values of Hollywood, but they are not the values of Virginia."
Last month, Allen told a crowd in southwest Virginia that Webb was in Los Angeles raising money from a "bunch of Hollywood movie moguls."
New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) raised the most from the industry in the past two years: $530,000, according to the center.
Kristian Denny Todd, a Webb spokeswoman, said Allen's 16th-place ranking highlights his "hypocritical statements" about Webb.
Wadhams said Webb can't hide from the fact that "he has been a Hollywood movie producer for the past 20 years."