Despite their extensive ties to China, a former Disney CEO and his wife recently donated over $1.7 million to a joint fundraising committee authorized by President Biden’s campaign.
On April 25, Biden’s campaign announced that Jeffrey Katzenberg, former head of Disney and DreamWorks Animation, would be one of its national co-chairs.
On April 27, Marilyn Katzenberg donated $889,600 to the Biden Victory Fund, the joint fundraising vehicle for the campaign, as recorded by the Federal Election Commission.
The Biden Victory Fund got $889,600 from Katzenberg on April 29, one day after his wife’s contribution. Katzenberg and his wife each gave the maximum amount to Biden’s presidential campaign in late April, totaling $6,600.
As has been well reported, Katzenberg has extensive ties to the communist regime of China, which could pose a dilemma for the president in light of the country’s human rights violations and the continued warnings from analysts about the threat that China poses to U.S. national security.
Katzenberg claims that while he was CEO of DreamWorks Animation, he made monthly trips to China.
In 2014, Katzenberg revealed that he had visited China once a month for the previous two and a half years because of the country’s extraordinary potential. Disney has enough stories and personalities to develop something completely different in theme parks.
As CEO of DreamWorks in 2012, Katzenberg oversaw the studio’s announcement of a multibillion-dollar partnership with the Chinese government to construct a production studio in Shanghai.
Just days after, the then-Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met with former President Barack Obama in Washington; a deal was reached to expand the number of annual U.S. film releases in China.
After he met with Obama, Xi, now head of China’s ruling Communist Party, flew to Los Angeles to talk to Katzenberg. The two men were identified at the contract signing ceremony.
Biden met with Xi several times during the Chinese leader’s visit to the United States in 2012, and he was instrumental in promoting Hollywood’s expansion into Chinese markets. Katzenberg was also frequently present at these meetings.
Author of Hollywood Made in China and film industry scholar Aynne Kokas said that Katzenberg’s access to the Obama administration was reflected in Katzenberg’s attendance at events with Xi because the Hollywood producer raised millions of dollars for the Obama-Biden ticket.
However, the acquisition sparked an SEC investigation into DreamWorks Animation and other studios for potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practises Act in connection with the suspected bribery of Chinese authorities to access the Chinese market. The investigation has received minimal media attention.
When the Hollywood entrepreneur and prominent Democratic donor left his post at DreamWorks in 2016, he maintained his ties to China. Katzenberg’s WndrCo raised $1 billion to create NewTV, a mobile-first short-form video business. Investors included the Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba.
The Biden campaign did not respond to the request for comment.