Silent media mogul is big noise in the world of politics, business
|The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly|
The media mogul in charge of the nation's largest Spanish-language television outlet doesn't speak Spanish. And he doesn't do media interviews. But while Jerry Perenchio may be silent in the press, he does have the ear of California's--and the nation's--political power brokers, as a prolific campaign contributor who has been a top donor to each of the state's last three governors, Republicans and Democrat alike.
Perenchio--who Forbes magazine ranked as the 89th richest man in America--made his estimated $3 billion fortune in the entertainment industry and has not been shy about signing off seven-figure checks to political allies, including Gov. Schwarzenegger. Since 1989, Mr. Perenchio has donated an eye-popping $17.7 million in California to just about every notable statewide official, save U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, according to state records.
Critics and defenders alike say he is an "equal opportunity donor," cutting checks as a business expense, not an ideological tool.
"In the fundraising world, there are raisers and givers. He is one of the great givers of all time--Democrats, Republicans, all people in power," said lobbyist Darius Anderson who helped coordinate fundraising efforts for Gov. Gray Davis.
And Perenchio is certainly a shrewd businessman.
Now 74, he began his professional life under the tutelage of legendary talent agent Lew Wasserman of MCA, and eventually helped chaperon the careers of some of Hollywood's favorite sons and daughters, including Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando and Elton John.
In 1971, Perenchio promoted the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match. In 1973, Perenchio worked behind the scenes of the historic "battle of the sexes" Bobby-Riggs-Billie Jean King tennis contest. He then partnered with Norman Lear to produce the hit television series "All in the Family." A decade later, the pair sold their stake in the company to Coca-Cola for a cool $485 million. Perenchio quickly turned another $140 million profit by buying, and selling, the Loews Cineplex theatre chain within a year. All the while, he has steered clear of the media...
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