Buying Their Way into State Dinner in Honor of Chinese President

Sunday, October 04, 2015
President Obama raises a toast at the state dinner for President Xi Jinping (photo: AP)

Would you pay $1 million for dinner? What if it included wild mushroom soup, poached Maine lobster, grilled cannon of Colorado lamb, and poppyseed bread and butter pudding? Sounds good, but probably not worth $1 million. What if the dinner were served in the White House?

Ah, then you’re talking. At the recent state dinner held in honor of Chinese President Xi Jinping there were plenty of diners who did just that. The guest list for the dinner was heavy with those who have given large sums of money to political campaigns and organizations. In fact, the total contributions made since 2007 by that evening’s dinner guests amounted to nearly $19 million. The donations have gone variously to President Obama’s political campaigns, Super PACs and even to Republicans.

Many of those present also do business in China, according to OpenSecrets.org. Among them was LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman, who gave $1 million to the Super PAC supporting Obama in 2012 and more to the Democratic Party. The same with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of DreamWorks Animation who has movie industry interests in China, where he has traveled 13 times. He has also given $5.4 million to support Democrats since 2007. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff was also there with his wife Lynne. The couple gave $167,800 to help finance Obama’s inauguration ceremonies and bundled more than half a million dollars for the 2012 campaign. They additionally gave $122,400 to the Democratic Party in 2012 and have, since 2007, donated a total of $222,300 to various committees and candidates.

There were some Republican donors on hand as well, according to OpenSecrets.org. Among them was Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who was a big supporter of Mitt Romney in 2012 and has now become a sugar daddy to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) as he runs for the presidency.

Check, please.

-Steve Straehley

To Learn More:

State Dinner Guests Gave More Than $18.9 Million to Political Campaigns, Groups (by Will Tucker, OpenSecrets.org)

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