DreamWorks Nightmare

Major Obama Donor’s Film Studio Under SEC Investigation


The Hollywood studio run by one of President Obama’s biggest donors is under investigation by the Securities Exchange Commission for bribing Chinese officials to secure exclusive film rights in the communist country—rights secured in secretive negotiations that included Vice President Joe Biden.

The SEC is investigating at least five Hollywood studios—including 20th Century Fox, Disney, and DreamWorks Animation—for allegedly making illegal payments to Chinese officials, Reuters reported Tuesday.

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is the largest donor to the Obama reelection super PAC Priorities USA.

Dreamworks announced in February a $2 billion deal with the Chinese government for the company to build a production studio in Shanghai. The deal came just days after Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping held an extensive meeting with Barack Obama in Washington, followed by the Chinese Vice President’s trip to Los Angeles to meet with Katzenberg.

The deal was part of a larger agreement under which China increased its annual quota of foreign-produced films to 34 from 20 and increased the revenue it allowed foreign studios to keep to 25 percent from 15 percent.

The additional films must use either Imax or 3-D technologies, according to the deal.

At the time of the deal, Katzenberg spokeswoman Jennifer Lin denied to the Free Beacon that there was any collusion between Katzenberg and the Obama administration.

However, the New York Times reported Tuesday that Biden joined Xi in personal negotiations to secure the deal.

Katzenberg and Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, also helped negotiate, according to the report.

Katzenberg cut a $2 million check to Priorities USA last spring, and his Dreamworks colleague Steven Spielberg followed with another $100,000 just a few months later.

In addition to his fundraising this cycle, Katzenberg was a bundler for Obama’s 2008 campaign, raising at least $500,000. He and his wife personally gave $352,402 to Democrats in 2008.

Dreamworks Animation declined to comment.

Katzenberg’s spokeswoman and the SEC did not return requests for comment.

CJ Ciaramella   Email CJ | Full Bio | RSS
CJ Ciaramella is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Beacon, he was a reporter for the Daily Caller. He was also a Collegiate Network year-long fellow at the San Diego Union-Tribune and has written articles for the Weekly Standard and Oregon Quarterly. Ciaramella attended the University of Oregon, where he edited the award-winning student magazine, the Oregon Commentator. He lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @cjciaramella. His email address is ciaramella@freebeacon.com.