Jeffrey Katzenberg explains super PAC donation

SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 06: Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks, attends the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 6, 2011 in Sun Valley, Idaho. The conference has been hosted annually by the investment firm Allen & Company each July since 1983. The conference is typically attended by many of the world's most powerful media executives. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(CBS News) NEW YORK -- Hollywood movie studio chieftain Jeffrey Katzenberg says he just wants President Obama to have a fair shot at a second term.

Katzenberg, the chief executive of DreamWorks Animation gave $2 million last year to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, which was almost a third of the $6.5 million raised by the political action committee through February.

Katzenberg told us via email why he chose to donate so much.

"I was concerned about the attempted hijacking of the elections by Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, and other extreme right wing special interest money and felt strongly that a defense had to be mounted," Katzenberg wrote.

Rove, the former top political aide for President George W. Bush, co-founded the leading conservative super PAC, American Crossroads, which aims to spend more than $200 million this year promoting Republicans running for office.

The industrialist billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch give generously to a number of conservative causes, but have yet to appear on any presidential super PAC donor lists.

Katzenberg said he did not expect any special policy considerations or personal attention in return for his large gift.

"My only expectation was that President Obama and other like-minded candidates would benefit by being able to compete on a more level playing field," Katzenberg wrote.

Super PACs established to benefit seven Republican presidential candidates -- Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Herman Cain -- have spent a total of $77.5 million dollars through this week.

The Supreme Court's ruling two years ago in the "Citizens United" case cleared the way for unlimited contributions for political advocacy as "free speech." Critics argue the scale of the super PAC donations could become a corruptive influence on government.

"I thought the Supreme Court decision paving the way for the current campaign finance system was a terrible one," Katzenberg wrote. "Nevertheless, it is the law of the land, and it would be foolish for one side to unilaterally disarm. Until the law changes, we have to mount as vigorous a defense as possible."

He had no comment on the content or tone of ads being produced by the pro-Obama super PAC - so far, mostly internet videos attacking Republican front runner Romney.

Katzenberg did say he'd expected his contribution to inspire other like-minded, wealthy people to support the President's re-election in same way.

"I hope my donation will draw attention to the amount of money being raised by the extreme right wing and serve as a catalyst for other Democratic donors," Katzenberg wrote.

That motive was also expressed by comedian Bill Maher, the only other individual to deliver a seven-figure check to Priorities USA Action. Maher gave the group $1 million in February.

"I'm doing this because I truly believe the difference between a country governed by Barack Obama and one governed by Santorum or Mitt Romney is worth a million dollars," Maher said at the time. "For all the rich liberals out there - if Bill Maher can do it, you can do it too."

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has also given the pro-Obama super PAC $1 million.

  • Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.

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