Biden heads to California for big Hollywood money haul

Credit: REUTERS/NATHAN HOWARD

By Jarrett Renshaw and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden kicks off a three-day, star-studded fundraising trip in California on Friday that a top campaign official boasted will rake in a record amount of cash for the Democratic U.S. president's 2024 reelection effort.

The trip comes a day after the Department of Justice filed new criminal charges against Biden's son, Hunter, accusing him of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes while spending millions of dollars on a lavish lifestyle.

California - and the deep-pocketed entertainment industry - has long served as a major funding source for Democrats, but long strikes by actors and screenwriters had a chilling effect on fundraising.

The end of the labor unrest has unlocked pent-up dollars, said Jeffrey Katzenberg, a movie mogul and campaign co-chair who has emerged as an influential voice in Biden's effort to win reelection in November 2024.

"It will be the most successful day and a half for the campaign to date and likely one of the most successful day and a half's prior to a general election, where things sort of kick into a whole 'nother gear, that we've ever had out here for any candidate ever," Katzenberg said in an interview with Reuters.

Biden will participate in two Los Angeles fundraisers that will include directors Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner and musicians Barbra Streisand and Lenny Kravitz. The California swing is part of a blitz of at least nine fundraisers Biden will hold before the end of the month.

The fundraisers in California and an earlier round in Boston are expected to raise at least $15 million, according to a source familiar with the events, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The total haul in the fourth quarter of 2023 is expected to be close to $67 million, the source said, adding that the amount will be similar to that raised by then-President Barack Obama during the same period in 2011.

Katzenberg, who is helping organize one of the fundraisers, said the final number was still fluid.

"The number is big. I know that," said Katzenberg, who co-founded DreamWorks Animation.

Biden will briefly stop in Las Vegas on Friday to announce $8.2 billion in funding for 10 new passenger rail projects, a senior administration official said. The projects, funded by the $1 trillion infrastructure law, include $3 billion for the nation's first high-speed rail line, which will run through California, according to a senior administration official.

Biden will also announce a $3 billion investment to help create another high-speed rail corridor between Las Vegas and South Carolina, along with money for projects in North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, the official said.

Biden has spent the last year crisscrossing the country announcing new funding tethered to his signature pieces of legislation: the infrastructure law, the Chips and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

It is part of a bid to boost his poll ratings and convince voters he is the right person to lead the U.S. economy, but recent public opinion polls show the effort has had little success.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Nandita Bose; Editing by Jamie Freed and Jonathan Oatis)

((jarrett.renshaw@thomsonreuters.com; (646) 223-6193;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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