Influence Explored: Companies behind Harry Potter cast a spell on U.S. politics


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 has obliviated all previous box-office records in its opening weekend, grossing $168 million in the U.S. alone, much of it in tickets sold before the movie opened. The movie is breaking international records as well.

It takes more than just magic to bring a sprawling vision like Harry Potter to the screen – multiple large corporations are involved, and they all work a kind of magic on our political process. Here’s how some of the companies behind Harry Potter influences politics here in the U.S.:

  • Employees of Scholastic Inc., Harry Potter’s U.S. publisher, made $37,225 in campaign contributions in 2009-10, 99 percent of which went to Democrats.
  • Scholastic spent $615,000 on six different lobbying firms in 2009-10, and lobbied for literacy programs, reauthorizing bills like No Child Left Behind and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and funding for the Census in Schools program.
  • Employees of Warner Brothers Entertainment and it’s PAC made $73,390 in contributions in 2009-10, 79 percent of which went to Democrats. Warner Bros is the studio behind the Harry Potter movies.
  • The employees and PAC of Time Warner, the parent company of Warner Brothers Entertainment, made just under $3 million in campaign contributions in 2009-10, 57% of which went to Democrats.
  • The top two all-time state-level recipients of Time Warner’s PAC contributions are David Dewhurst, Lieutenant Governor of Texas, and Rick Perry, Governor of Texas. Both are Republicans, and both have been receiving donations in excess of $10,000 each from Time Warner’s PAC since at least 2004. Dewhurst and Perry have received $335,000 and $251,000 from Time Warner’s PAC, respectively.
  • Time Warner spent $7.3 million on lobbying in 2009-10 on issues related to broadcasting, copyright and publishing. Some of the bills Time Warner’s lobbyists worked on include well-known bills such as the Recovery Act and Wall Street reform.

‘Influence Explored’ takes an article from the day’s headlines and exposes the influential ways of entities mentioned in the article. Names and corporations are run through Sunlight’s influence tracking tools such as Influence Explorer and Transparency Data to remind readers of the money that powers Washington.