Wealthy Hollywood producer and top Democratic Party donor
Gave nearly $16 million to Democrats between 2000 and 2004
Born in March 1965, Stephen Bing is a Hollywood producer, real estate developer, political activist, and prominent donor to the Democratic Party. The grandson of New York real estate tycoon Leo Bing and the son of Dr. Peter Bing (a onetime public health official in Lyndon Johnson‘s White House), Stephen Bing inherited a family fortune estimated to total between $400 million and $600 million. Today he is a close friend and associate of the billionaire financier George Soros.
A notorious playboy and tabloid magnet, Bing is deeply devoted to the Democratic Party and its affiliated causes. In 1998 he ranked as the 13th leading campaign donor to the Democrats. Beyond contributing $759,000 to assist individual Democratic candidates in the late 1990s, Bing provided $1 million to help bankroll the party's 2000 national convention. During the 2000 election cycle, he gave $200,000 to Democratic nominee Al Gore’s presidential campaign. A report by the Center for Public Integrity further found that, between August 2000 and August 2004, Bing wrote checks totaling $15,382,555 to pro-Democratic "Section 527 organizations," tax-exempt activist groups unofficially allied with the Democratic Party (for instance, the MoveOn Voter Fund), making Bing the third leading contributor to the Democratic party behind George Soros and Progressive Corp Chairman Peter Lewis.
Between 2001 and 2002, Bing used his production company, Shangri-La Entertainment, to steer $6.7 million to various Democratic entities, including the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Also in 2002, Bing became the leading contributor to New American Optimists (NAO), the political action committee of future Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards. By means of Shangri-La Entertainment, Bing transferred $905,000 -- fully $900,000 of which was in the form of soft-money contributions -- to NAO in 2002.
Just weeks prior to the 2004 presidential elections, Bing donated $252,000 to the pro-Democratic "527" group Stronger America Now. In total, Bing gave nearly $14 million to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and other Democrats in 2004.
In addition to his support for Democratic politicos, Bing has been a stalwart backer of numerous leftist ventures. In February 2006, for instance, he pledged to spend as much as $10 million to ensure the passage of a California ballot initiative that would impose a new tax on oil from California wells on the state’s residents. Also supporting the initiative was a bevy of environmentalist groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Previously, in 2001, Bing had pledged $10 million to NRDC to conduct a study of global warming in the United States.
Bing has also championed California’s Proposition 10, a legislative measure that successfully levied a 50 cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes and a similar tax on other tobacco products. In 1998, Bing reportedly gave $800,000 to the Proposition 10 campaign, making him the top contributor.
Not all of Bing’s donations have been aboveboard, however. In June 2002, for example, he had to pay a $25,000 fine after failing to disclose his contributions during the 2000 election cycle in California.
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