By STEVEN HERBERT
City News Service
President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive today for a two-day visit to Los Angeles for two political fundraisers and a speech at a gala for an organization founded by Steven Spielberg to keep alive memories of the Holocaust and other genocides.
The trip will be Obama's 17th to the Los Angeles area since taking office in 2009. All but three of his trips have included political fundraisers. He has made 10 trips to the area solely for fundraising.
"Since the Clinton presidency, Los Angeles has become the principal donor base for the Democratic Party," Raphael J. Sonenshein, the executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles told City News Service.
"Thirty, 40 years ago, that would have been inconceivable because so much of the Democratic Party fundraising was on the East Coast."
Clinton "turned California into his second political home and that has pretty much continued," Sonenshein said.
"Even Republican candidates raise a considerable amount of money in Southern California, but relatively speaking, any Democratic president in a election year is going to spend a lot of time raising money" in California, he said.
The trip's first fundraiser will be tonight at the Bel Air mansion of Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn and his wife, Cindy, benefiting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, according to the entertainment trade newspaper The Hollywood Reporter.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, are also scheduled to attend the fundraiser, The Hollywood Reporter reported.
On Thursday, Obama will conduct what The Hollywood Reported described as an intimate "round table" discussion at The Beverly Hilton, benefiting the Democratic National Committee.
The top ticket price for both political fundraisers are $32,400, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The figure is the maximum amount that can be given to a party committee in a calendar year under federal law.
"President Obama is once again treating California as his personal piggy bank as he tries to stave off the worst midterm environment for the Democrats in 20 years," Republican National Committee Regional Press Secretary Michael Short told City News Service.
There was no reply to an email sent to the Democratic National Committee seeking a response.
Obama tonight will receive the highest honor from the USC Shoah Foundation -- The Institute for Visual History and Education, during its 20th anniversary Ambassadors for Humanity Gala at the Century Plaza Hotel.
Spielberg will present the Ambassador for Humanity Award to Obama for his global efforts to protect human rights, his commitment to education and expanding educational technology, and his work advancing opportunities for all people, according to the gala's organizers.
"As a constitutional scholar and as president, his interest in expanding justice and opportunity for all is remarkably evident," Spielberg has said of the president. "The president's recent appointment of the first special envoy for Holocaust Survivor Services in United States history demonstrates his staunch commitment to honoring the past while building a better future."
Spielberg established the foundation after completing the 1993 best- picture Oscar-winning film "Schindler's List" to collect and preserve the video testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. The foundation is part of the University of Southern California's Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Working within the university and with partners around the world, the institute advances scholarship and research, provides resources and online tools for educators, and disseminates the testimonies for educational purposes.
The institute is seeking to expand the Visual History Archive with accounts of survivors and witnesses of other genocides. In 2013 it added an initial collection of 65 testimonies of survivors and rescuers from the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi genocide and in February an initial collection of 12 testimonies of survivors from the 1937 Nanjing Massacre were added.
The institute is also working to add collections from the Armenian and Cambodian genocides, as well as a collection of Testimonies from North Africa and the Middle East.
This is Obama's first trip to the Los Angeles area since November when he spoke at the DreamWorks Animation facility in Glendale, praising the entertainment industry as an economic "bright spot" that reflects positive American values across the globe, and conducted three political fundraisers.
"This year Democrats are feeling the donor block in the Democratic Party has been hanging back, while on the Republican side, the Koch brothers are spending tens of millions of dollars throughout the country ...," Sonenshein said. "There's a big concern that's been growing in the Democratic Party that the president and the other leadership needs to shake the trees and get people to donate."