- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Montana Sen. Max Baucus is emerging as the new darling of Hollywood's glitterati, and his Republican challenger says that shows the incumbent is out of touch with the state's conservative voters.
Stars like Barbra Streisand, Michael Douglas and Rob Reiner have donated to the campaign of Mr. Baucus, a four-term Democrat up for re-election in Montana, a state where George W. Bush won 58 percent of the vote in 2000.
"Max is currently doing his once-every-six-years penance as a moderate," said Bowen Greenwood, communications director for the Republican challenger, state Sen. Mike Taylor. "But Hollywood knows that if they can get [Mr. Baucus] through this election, he'll be right back in line with their agenda.
Movie stars' contributions to Mr. Baucus highlight an issue the Taylor campaign has stressed: Mr. Baucus's reliance on out-of-state campaign donors. The veteran Democrat gets more money from donors in New York than he does from Montana.
"Max Baucus receives approximately 16 percent of his itemized contributions from Montana, Mike Taylor about 90 percent," Mr. Greenwood said. "One candidate in this race has to depend on money from Hollywood, and it isn't Mike Taylor. One candidate in this race is the second-largest PAC recipient in history, and it isn't Mike Taylor."
Baucus campaign staff said Press Secretary Barrett Kaiser was tied up in a conference call yesterday afternoon. Mr. Kaiser did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment on the senator's fund raising.
Hollywood support for Mr. Baucus whose re-election is seen as crucial to Democrats' hopes of maintaining their one-vote margin in the Senate is typical, according to Federal Election Commission records showing that top-name stars overwhelmingly favor liberal causes and Democratic candidates.
Actors Michael J. Fox, Danny DeVito and Larry Hagman, supermodel Christie Brinkley and comedienne Rosie O'Donnell are among the entertainment figures who have given to Democrats in the current election cycle.
Actress and activist Jane Fonda is far and away the top Hollywood giver, giving more than $12 million in unregulated "soft-money" contributions in the past two election cycles. That made her the No. 1 individual soft-money donor in America, according to the nonpartisan watchdog group Public Citizen.
Major Hollywood political donors in the 2002 election include Mr. Reiner, with $55,200 in reported contributions, Mr. Douglas with $33,500, and Miss Streisand with $31,500 all to Democratic candidates or liberal PACs, according to FEC data.
Some say that getting money from the likes of Mr. Reiner the former "All in the Family" star turned film director and a major supporter of gun control could be a liability for Mr. Baucus in a conservative state like Montana.
"When you see the kind of money that Baucus has brought in, you really see how out of step he is with Montana voters," said Dan Allen, press secretary for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Mr. Taylor sounded that theme in a speech Saturday to the Montana Republican Convention, citing Mr. Baucus as a man "who takes money from Ted Turner, Tom Daschle and Hillary Clinton."
Mr. Taylor is a sheep rancher who has spent more than half a million dollars of his own money in this campaign some two-thirds of his total fund raising, according to FEC reports. He blames environmental regulations for thwarting economic development in largely rural Montana.
"Our dream is for a Montana where people matter more than wolves, where our family values matter more than Hollywood values," Mr. Taylor told the state GOP.
Even without Hollywood money, Mr. Baucus would enjoy a huge fund-raising edge over his Republican challenger. The Democrat has raised nearly $4.3 million for the current cycle through May 15 a 6-to-1 advantage over Mr. Taylor's $734,515.
While Hollywood liberals were giving big to Democrats, more conservative entertainers actor Charlton Heston, actress Bo Derek and rock guitarist Ted Nugent have made no contributions during the current election cycle, FEC data show.

Stephanie Casler contributed to this report.


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