Hollywood superagent Ari Emanuel is a reliable Democratic campaign donor, including with a recent maximum contribution to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. But there’s one Democratic politician he’s yet to give money — his own brother, Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Ari Emanuel’s $4,950 check to de Blasio, who is up for re-election in November, surfaced in a campaign finance report released this week. And a review of federal campaign records shows Ari Emanuel has contributed more than $300,000 to various Democratic candidates and committees at the national level.
But in Chicago, none of the $42.6 million Rahm Emanuel has raised since he first ran for mayor has come directly from his brother’s wallet.
Emanuel also did not receive any political contributions from his brother during his time as a North Side congressman, records show. Ari Emanuel also did not give to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or U.S. House candidates when his brother ran that successful campaign apparatus ahead of the 2006 election. The West Coast-based Emanuel stuck to Democratic Senate candidates instead.
While Ari Emanuel has hosted at least one Southern California fundraiser for the mayor and has deep ties to Hollywood’s elite donors, exactly why he has steered clear of contributing directly to his older brother’s campaigns is unclear. Spokesmen for Rahm Emanuel’s campaign and Ari Emanuel’s talent agency WME-IMG did not respond to requests for comment.
Records show Ari Emanuel’s contribution to de Blasio was recorded March 24, a few weeks after the New York mayor made a fundraising trip to Los Angeles. During that multicity junket, de Blasio also made a local stop where he met with Mayor Emanuel at City Hall and later defended him against attacks from President Donald Trump during a speech to the City Club of Chicago.
He may have never cut his brother a campaign check, but Ari Emanuel’s Hollywood connections certainly haven’t hurt, as the mayor has demonstrated a reliable California donor base in both of his bids to run City Hall.
All told, the mayor has collected more than 380 political donations from California donors totaling nearly $2.7 million. That includes contributions from Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, media mogul Haim Saban, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David and music executive David Geffen, among many others.
During Emanuel’s first run for mayor, his younger brother hosted a November 2010 Hollywood fundraiser along with Geffen, Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger and former Fox head Peter Chernin.
In 2015, Trump — then a reality TV star and real estate magnate — told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board he cut the mayor a $50,000 check because Ari Emanuel asked him to do so. The high-profile agent once represented Trump in his television endeavors, and both Emanuel brothers met separately with Trump before he took office in January.
“I gave him a contribution because his brother is a great friend of mine — Ari, king of Hollywood,” Trump said at the time. “I love Ari. And Ari asked me to give him a contribution. I like Rahm very much.”
Since Trump took office, however, Mayor Emanuel frequently has criticized the president for his position on immigration while Trump frequently has sent barbs Chicago’s way by criticizing the city’s struggles with violent crime.
As for Ari Emanuel, the Hollywood executive has shown signs of ramping up his political involvement. Variety reported this year that he and WME-IMG co-CEO Patrick Whitesell were planning to set up a super political action committee so workers at the talent agency could “engage in the political process.”