Today, Oprah Winfrey will be the special guest at a fundraiser for Senate hopeful and current Newark mayor Cory Booker. The fundraiser will take place in Jersey City with a general admission price tag of $1,000 and VIP tickets costing $2,600.
Booker has raised $6.5 million since January for his campaign, including $4.6 million in the last three months alone, according to his most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission. Around 70% of contributions he received have come from out of state.
Booker's FEC filing, covering April through June, reveals over two dozen high-profile celebrity donors, including Paul Anka ($5,000), Ben Affleck ($5,000), Jennifer Garner ($5,000), Mark Zuckerberg ($10,400), Ivanka Trump ($10,400), Sheryl Sandberg ($2,600), and J.J. Abrams ($10,400).
Because a viable campaign for office requires significant financial backing, those who don't have this sort of connection to networks of celebrities and other wealthy individuals often can't mount a competitive campaign and instead get winnowed out in a "wealth primary." That limits the types of candidates that voters ever even see on their ballots and narrows the range of good ideas that might make it to the Capitol.
One of Booker's opponents in the primary, Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), is a cosponsor of the Fair Elections Now Act, a piece of legislation that would empower everyday people through a combination of matching small dollar donations and limited public funds. On Tuesday, Holt reiterated his support for such plans, noting, "The already privileged, the ones with money, should not have extra influence in the political process." Booker, who has denounced the Citizens United decision in the past, has yet to state his position on the Fair Elections Now Act and other similar legislation.