It’s not like she needs the money. She openly supported B.O., refused to interview Sarah Palin on her program, but she takes dough from a McCain donor.
With Oprah Winfrey, the intersection of politics and education is making for strange bedfellows. Federal tax returns and other reports confirm that she’s accepted at least $5 million for her self-named South African girls’ school from perhaps Barack Obama’s single greatest political enemy.
Oprah is probably the most well-known celebrity to back Senator Barack Obama’s bid for the presidency. She threw him a lavish launch party, endorsed him on her show, stumped for him in the early primaries, and cried — as captured by photographers — in a Chicago park when he won the election. Her loyalty seemed fierce.
But it turns out that Winfrey is very close friends with Dallas billionaire named Harold Simmons, a leading Republican donor and supporter of John McCain.
This past August it was revealed that Simmons was the single donor to a 527 committee called American Issues Project. Its only issue: to run ads linking Obama to William Ayers, the political activist who was once part of the Weather Underground. Simmons paid $2.9 million to try and make Ayers the Obama campaign’s “Swift Boat,” an issue that might have sidelined permanently the Illinois senator’s chances and advance John McCain — Simmons’s candidate — to the White House.
Nevertheless, Winfrey has cultivated her friendship with Simmons on many social fronts since 2001, resulting in his being second only to her in donating funds to her Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa.
According to the 2006 federal tax filing for the Oprah Winfrey Operating Fund, Winfrey accepted a $1 million donation to the school from Simmons. That amount, The Dallas Morning News reported in 2007, was only part of a $5 million pledge to the Academy. Simmons is considered Dallas’s leading philanthropist to worthy causes. In this case, though, it might have been unnecessary, since Winfrey herself has donated over $60 million to the school.
It’s not like Simmons is a new Republican donor. He gave over $100,000 in the 2007-2008 election cycle to Republican candidates, separate from his Ayers campaign. He has always been an active Republican. In 2004 he was a major donor to the Swift Boat Veterans, the group credited with destroying the campaign of John Kerry for president.
Winfrey has long been close friends with Simmons and his wife Annette. She’s their neighbor in Montecito, California, having bought the estate next to them in 2001. As recently as two weeks ago, Oprah mentioned the couple on her show during a telephone discussion of the Montecito fires with another neighbor, actor Rob Lowe.
(Winfrey was not available for comment, according to her representative. Simmons, who doesn’t have a press representative, did not return our call.)
Here’s another interesting point brought up in the article: Oprah and her (boyfriend?) Graham Steadman gave money to Obama only during the primary, but not thoroughout his campaign.
That’s rather strange for a flaming liberal who tearfully blubbered after B. Hussein got elected.