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Rahm, Haim and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

By Laurie Bennett

January 24, 2011 at 7:51am

The man who brought Power Rangers to America is pouring big bucks into yet another Democratic politican campaign.

This time, it’s Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago mayoral run.

Billionaire Haim Saban was the single largest contributor to the campaign in 2010, giving $400,000. His wife Cheryl donated another $100,000. (The map above shows $100,000+ contributors to Emanuel’s committee.)

Saban recently received some unwanted publicity in the Steve Rattner pay-to-play case.

He was named in press reports, if not in legal documents, as the third party who made kickback payments in the guise of campaign contributions to former New York Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

Haim Saban
Haim Saban

Rattner, former White House auto czar, was accused of paying kickbacks to land a $150 million investment from a New York pension fund for his equity firm. The Securities and Exchange Commission had accused him of arranging contributions through a friend to Hevesi’s re-election campaign.

The SEC didn’t name the friend, but the Wall Street Journal reported that the only contributions in that amoount at that time came from Saban and his wife.

As the Journal noted, campaign contributions are not illegal, and Saban has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Rattner settled cases filed against him by New York state and the SEC, agreeing to pay more than $16 million in penalties.

Like Rattner, Saban is a frequent contributor to Democratic causes.

Born in Egypt and raised in Israel, he has assumed a high political profile in the years since Disney bought Fox Family Worldwide, the children’s network he co-owned with News Corp. He had raised the network’s profile and profitability by adapting a Japanese TV show about morphing super heroes for the American audience.

He was a bundler for the Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign and a major donor to the Clinton Foundation.

The Federal Election Commission reports that he has made nearly $13 million in soft-money contributions to national Democratic committees since 1998.

Related story: The Influencer, by Connie Bruck of the New Yorker.

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