Casey Affleck has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump — both before and after the election — but, unbeknownst to the actor and producer, his production company made a donation to a non-profit that was intended to aid the president's transition.
"I am appalled that a donation may have been made in my company's name by someone I work with," Affleck told BuzzFeed News in a statement. "I had no knowledge of it, was never asked, and never would have authorized it. I will get to the bottom of it. The policies of the Trump administration, and the values they represent, are antithetical to everything I believe in.”
The Affleck/Middleton Project is Affleck’s film and television production company formed in 2014 with John Powers Middleton; the company backed Manchester by the Sea, the film for which Affleck is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. On Saturday, Affleck won Best Male Lead at the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards for his performance. During his acceptance speech, he said: “The policies of this administration are abhorrent and they won’t last. They’re really un-American.”
Middleton — who has also produced on Bates Motel and The Lego Movie, and for production companies Vertigo and Good Universe — has been a major GOP supporter in the past. Last year, according to the Sunlight Foundation, he personally donated $227,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC, the Committee to Restore America’s Greatness, while John Powers Middleton Companies contributed an additional $150,000. It is unclear if he was the party to make the donation to the Trump transition non-profit on the Affleck/Middleton Project’s behalf.
Middleton did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for a comment.
The Affleck/Middleton Project is currently slated to produce Peter Glanz’s next feature The Price of Admission (with Affleck as executive producer), and the adaptation of Far Bright Star, an I’m Still Here reunion with Affleck directing and Joaquin Phoenix starring.
In their analysis of federal filings, the Center for Public Integrity noted that Google's lead lobbyist Susan Molinari; 21st Century Fox lobbyist David Bockorny; the Entertainment Software Association; Microsoft; and Mark Zuckerberg’s pro-immigration lobbying group Fwd.us were among donors to the Trump transition non-profit. Many kicked in the same number — $5,000 — which is the legal maximum contribution to the type of non-profit organization that was established to aid presidential transition operations, including payroll, tax, travel, relocation expenses, legal, and consulting expenses. CPI’s report was co-published with NBC News and Public Radio International.
Katie Hasty is a deputy entertainment editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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