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U2 moves to distance itself from politicians

The rock group posts a statement saying it is not involved in any of the political fundraisers pegged to its concerts.

October 15, 2005|Geoff Boucher | Times Staff Writer

Rock stars have been increasingly inserting themselves into political arenas in recent years. Now it appears politicians are turning the tables by using concerts as a backdrop for their fundraisers -- and at least one rock band isn't happy about it.

U2 has posted a statement on its website distancing the group from the practice of politicians raising cash by inviting campaign donors to attend the band's shows in private suites. The practice has crossed the political aisle; Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) have scheduled suite parties on U2's current hot-ticket "Vertigo" tour.

The statement seems intended to wave off any appearance of partisanship by DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), a group closely linked to Bono that is working toward African poverty relief. The statement was attributed to Jamie Drummond, executive director of DATA.

"Throughout the U2 tour, politicians from both sides have been organizing fundraisers at the venues or around specific shows. Neither DATA or Bono are involved in these and they cannot be controlled. The U2 concerts are categorically not fundraisers for any politician -- they are rock concerts for U2 fans."

Santorum's press secretary, Robert Traynham, told Associated Press on Thursday that the decision by the Senate's third-ranking Republican to hold a fundraiser during a Philadelphia show Sunday night is based on his "deep respect and admiration for Bono and their work together over the last few years to fight the global spread of HIV-AIDS." The fundraiser will go ahead as planned. Donors reportedly will pay $1,000 or more to rock out with the senator.

Clinton expects 18 supporters, willing to pay $2,500 each to benefit Democrats, to join her at a U2 concert at the MCI Center on Oct. 19 in Washington. The Clintons are famous friends with Bono. A campaign spokesman said Friday that there would be no official comment.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took his turn at the rock 'n' roll trough as well. When the Rolling Stones kicked off their current tour in Boston, California's chief executive flew east to attend the show with a group of donors. He was playfully mocked from the stage when Mick Jagger said the politician had been "out front scalping tickets and selling T-shirts" before the show. The Stones tour has upcoming California stops but a spokesman for Schwarzenegger said Friday that the governor has no more fundraising concert visits scheduled at this time.

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