While this had been well known, proving how it was happening has always proved tricky. According to Michael Geist who has been looking at the Sony material he has found out how.
The emails show coordinated efforts by the MPAA to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for certain politicians with direct efforts from MPAA CEO Christopher Dodd to solicit donations from among the Hollywood studios.
Some of the examples include efforts by Dodd, a former Democratic Senator, to raise $40,000 per studio for Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte:
One email said the following:
Call from Dodd re NRCC/Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte: Chairman Goodlatte has established a new fundraising committee that would allow contributions to his effort WITHOUT giving to the NRCC (all of the studios had the same sensitivity on this as we did). Dodd is likely to call you with this news, tell you that the studio should support with $40k each, and tell you about the tentative date/time for this fundraiser (likely a lunch on 11/22). Our PAC can give $15k, the rest would need to come from individual execs.
In the US this is called fundraising and the emails show Sony working out how to pay up.
With respect to the timing of a fundraiser either just before/just after the LACS event, I understand Dodd will be calling board members early next week to make a fundraising push – both for Goodlatte and/or the NRCC (the expectation is an aggregate of $100k) and Orin Hatch and/or NRSC (also 100k, which smells a little bit like a Disney play regarding corp. tax reform). Given that we have given to these folks this cycle, I think much of this would have to be personal money versus PAC dollars – I’m evaluating and will circle back with details in terms of what could be absorbed by our PAC, but wanted you to have the state of play now. FWIW, I’ve told Joanna that I have doubts regarding our ability to meet goals if this is all personal $$$ (roughly 34k).
The emails show that there is “fundraising” for members of the House of Representatives and fundraising for state governors, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, which cost $10,000 per couple.
All this buys lunch with the President of the United States, direct calls with the head of the USTR, and meetings with Prime Ministers of Spain and the UK. Which might explain why the UK has become so rabidly pro-movie studios lately.