Hillary Clinton gave the keynote address at the Saban Forum at the Willard Hotel in Washington on Dec. 6, 2015. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)Among the wealthy donors seeking to influence this year’s presidential election, billionaire entertainment investor Haim Saban stands apart.
Not only have he and his wife lavished $10 million on a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC, but Saban is also majority owner and chairman of Univision, which runs the country’s most-watched Spanish-language television network and reaches a large share of a key voting bloc.
So when Saban asked last year to speak to top campaign officials, shortly after Donald Trump had described Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers in his presidential announcement speech, he immediately got their attention.
“Haim thinks we are under reacting to Trump/Hispanics,” campaign chairman John Podesta wrote to top campaign aides after speaking with Saban, according to hacked emails posted by WikiLeaks. “Thinks we can get something by standing up for Latinos or attacking R’s for not condemning.”
The campaign’s vice chair, Huma Abedin, wrote that Saban had called her, as well, concluding, “If Haim is raising it, it means he’s hearing it from his Univision colleagues.”
The emails reveal how a major donor had access to the highest levels of the Clinton campaign and was able to press top aides about an issue of major interest to his company. At the time, Trump’s rhetoric on illegal immigration was garnering extensive coverage on Univision’s news programs.
In a statement, Saban said he separates his roles of Clinton supporter and media owner.
“As an immigrant myself, I am appalled by Mr. Trump’s disturbing, un-American and non-inclusive stance,” said Saban, who grew up in Israel. “I’ve been a supporter of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party long before my affiliation with Univision, and one thing has nothing to do with the other.”
By Matea Gold and Rosalind S. Helderman for The Washington Post
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