The New York Times reports today on the rise of China’s “princelings,” the children of the Communist Party’s former and current leadership, who have taken control over many of that country’s most profitable businesses.
The New York Times reveals that Katzenberg’s silent Chinese partner in the deal is Jiang Mianheng, the son of former Communist Party leader and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
What the New York Times does not reveal is that Katzenberg is the largest donor to President Obama’s Super PAC Priorities USA at $2 million and a major bundler to the Obama campaign, having raised more than $500,000 for the President’s reelection campaign.
Also not revealed by the New York Times, Katzenberg and his studio are currently under SEC investigation for bribing Chinese officials in order to obtain access to the Chinese market.
The Dreamworks deal has raised questions about pay for play on the American side as well. The nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation notes that Katzenberg’s deal was made possible with help from the Obama administration, which arranged a meeting for Katzenberg with Chinese Vice President and heir apparent Xi Jingping after his White House visit in February. Xi traveled from the White House to Los Angeles to sign the deal with the major Obama donor.
The Sunlight Foundation asks if “Katzenberg’s support for Obama fast-track[ed his] movie deal with China?” But Dreamworks would not respond to on-the-record questions from the good government watchdog group.
Vice President Biden also personally engaged in the negotiations with the Chinese government in advance of Katzenberg’s deal that effectively raised the number of U.S. films that could be released in the Chinese market each year—an agreement that made the Katzenberg deal significantly more valuable.
Earlier this month, President Obama embraced Katzenberg just days after the SEC announced its investigation. "I want to thank Jeffrey (Katzenberg) not just for this evening, but for his tenacious support and advocacy since we started back in 2007. He has consistently been there for me, through thick and through thin," Obama said.
"The only person I don't have to remind [of how difficult the 2008 campaign was] is Jeffrey because he was there, through all the ups and downs, and occasionally he would call, and he would say, ‘Barack, I don't think that things are working the way they're supposed to.’"