Capitol Alert

Celebrities endorsing California ballot measures, not writing checks

Actor Bryan Cranston gave $5,000 to Proposition 62, which would abolish the death penalty in California, in March.
Actor Bryan Cranston gave $5,000 to Proposition 62, which would abolish the death penalty in California, in March. The Associated Press

When the Proposition 62 campaign sent out a fundraising email Tuesday night signed by Bryan Cranston, it was something rare.

It was not just a celebrity endorsement, of which there are always plenty in California politics, but one from a celebrity who had actually put his money behind his advocacy. In March, Cranston, the Emmy-winning star of “Breaking Bad,” donated $5,000 to the initiative that seeks to abolish the death penalty in California.

Among a list of nearly two dozen entertainers touted as supporters on the campaign’s website, there are only a handful of others like Cranston: “Hill Street Blues” actress Barbara Bosson and “Fatal Attraction” director Adrian Lyne have each contributed $5,000. Rocker Jackson Browne, who is performing two concerts this week to raise money for the cause, has given $1,550.

Meanwhile, actors Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Ed Asner and George Takei, musicians Harry Belafonte and Joan Baez, and director and screenwriter Paul Haggis have lent their names, but not any money, to Proposition 62, according to state filings.

That dynamic is visible all over California’s massive November ballot, which features several high-profile issues like gun control and marijuana legalization.

Barbra Streisand endorsed Proposition 63, to institute background checks for ammunition purchases and other new gun regulations, through a fundraising email in early October. Days before, Olympic gold medal-winning shooter Kim Rhode appeared in a YouTube ad against the measure. Neither has contributed to their respective side.

And a new group called Artists for Yes on 64 just formed to promote the initiative legalizing recreational marijuana. But none of the more than a dozen members – including rappers Jay Z and Common, actors Shailene Woodley, Tim Robbins and Olivia Wilde, and author Piper Kerman – have donated to the campaign.

Other celebrities, however, have given quietly to the ballot’s biggest measures while mostly staying out of the political limelight.

“Iron Man” star Robert Downey Jr., who was pardoned last year for a 1996 drug conviction, and his wife each donated $35,000 to Proposition 57, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to change parole. Famed television producer Norman Lear contributed $5,000 to the anti-death penalty initiative. And actor Ryan Phillippe is in for legal marijuana, to the tune of $500.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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