Oprah Winfrey made good on her promise to attend a fundraiser for her pal Lavern Chatman’s congressional campaign, showing up with longtime partner Stedman Graham at a Saturday-evening event at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington.
The media mogul had vowed to support Chatman in her bid for the Democratic nomination for the seat vacated by the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), even after reports that Chatman was found liable in 2001 for her role in a scheme to defraud hundreds of District nursing home employees of at least $1.4 million in owed wages. Chatman has mantained her innocence, saying she was duped by someone she considered a friend.
The fundraiser’s theme was “empowering women and girls through leadership” a spokeswoman tells us, and we’re told Oprah spoke for more than 20 minutes to the 400-plus crowd. Also on the program were speeches by motivational speaker Gloria Mayfield Banks; Schroeder Stribling, the executive director of N Street Village, a nonprofit for homeless women; and Mpumi Nobiva, a college student and a graduate of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Chatman is Nobiva’s host parent in the U.S., the spokeswoman says.
“Stedman and I came here tonight to support Lavern Chatman,” Winfrey said, according to a press release from Chatman’s campaign. “I’ve seen how Lavern embraced with her whole heart being a host mom to one of my girls, who recently graduated from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa. Lavern makes people feel like they matter, and I see that Lavern is happiest when she is serving others.”
Oprah’s played political kingmaker before — her support of then Sen. Barack Obama boosted his 2008 primary bid. So did the star power translate into big bucks? Tickets were $150, with primo seating going for $1,000 and $1,500, according to Chatman’s website. A photo with Oprah herself was $2600.
The spokeswoman declined to say how much money Chatman pulled in at the fundraiser.
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