Federal Politics

Published — February 2, 2012 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Media execs, companies gave more than $350,000 to conservative super PACs

Samuel Zell, chairman of the Tribune Company, handed $200,000 to conservative super PACs in 2011. His media group owns 11 daily newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, 23 television stations, and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Damian Dovarganes/AP

Big donors include Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell

Introduction

Conservative complaints about a liberal bias in the media do not hold up, at least not when it comes to the free-spending groups known as “super PACs.”

News companies and their executives donated more than $350,000 to conservative super PACs in 2011, according to financial disclosure forms filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission.

The donations included $100,000 from St. Paul-based Hubbard Broadcasting to the American Crossroads super PAC, which was created by Bush White House strategist Karl Rove. Hubbard is a family-owned media company with a dozen local TV stations, 21 radio stations — including D.C.’s leading news channel WTOP — and a national cable channel.

The broadcaster did not respond to inquiries about the donation.

This appears to be the first time Executive Chairman Stanley S. Hubbard has made a political donation directly from corporate coffers. But the 77-year-old businessman and his wife Karen have already donated $210,759 to Republican candidates, parties and political action committees this election cycle, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of FEC filings.

Minnesota media reporter David Brauer notes that Hubbard, in the 2010 Minnesota gubernatorial race, donated $100,000 to Minnesota Forward, a group backing Republican nominee Tom Emmer. HBI subsequently donated $25,000 to Minnesota’s Future, a group attacking Emmer’s opponent, Mark Dayton, and $10,000 to Pro-Jobs Majority, which supported two legislative Republicans.

The donations have created problems for those at KSTP TV, the Hubbard-owned ABC affiliate in the Twin Cities. The newsroom was red-faced two years ago when it failed to disclose corporate entanglements in news stories about Minnesota Forward’s ads.

Super PACs are political organizations that accept unlimited amounts of money from individuals and corporations to spend on political races. These groups were made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and another lower court decision.

The Los Angeles Times noted Tuesday that its beleaguered owner Sam Zell contributed $100,000 to Crossroads. He also chipped in another $50,000 for the Restore Our Future, a super PAC supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential bid and $50,000 to the New Prosperity Foundation, a conservative group.

Restore Our Future scored support from at least two other notable media executives. Steven Price, the chairman and CEO of Greenwich-based Townsquare Media, a company with 176 radio stations, donated $50,000. The group also received $10,000 from Michael White, the chairman and CEO of satellite dish company DirecTV.

A quick search of FEC filings for names or organizations associated with the news media did not turn up any donations given to progressive super PACs this election cycle.

But the stereotype about big-spending “Hollywood liberals” certainly held true in 2011.

One of the biggest super PAC donations in 2011 was $2 million from Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the co-founders DreamWorks Animation, to Priorities USA Action. Famed director Steven Spielberg also donated $100,000.

This story has been updated.

Did we miss any interesting media donors to super PACs? Search the California Watch’s database and let us know what you find via email (chiar@publicintegrity.org) or in the comments below.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Martin Shellabarger
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J. Stevenson, what are you drinking? Trump has more lobbyists in his administration than probably any other president. Trump is totally “for sale”, and the corporations know it. Grow a brain!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.