Will The Celebrity-backed Push For Obamacare Enrollment Work?

‘Funniest Celebrity in Washington’: VIPs still rally to fundraiser despite little aid to charity

In 2010, he was paid $4,225; in 2011, it was $21,559. (Tax forms for 2012, when there was no Funniest Celebrity event, were not available.) Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher performs at Funniest Celebrity in 2009. (Dan Zak / The Washington Post) Doug White, a scholar of philanthropic practices, said that well-run charities aim for a 75-25 ratio, where the larger number goes to the charitable mission and the smaller sum to operating costs and expenses. For big galas and seated dinners, costs shouldnt exceed 40 percent. (At Funniest Celebrity, patrons get sandwiches and one free cocktail; theres usually a B-list comic paid a few hundred dollars to perform.) The larger problem, White said, is the perception among ticket buyers and celebrities who lend their name and time that most of the money goes to charity. But White also faulted beneficiaries for not doing more research before signing on. Charities are taught to say thank you and nothing more. Its unfortunate. One Funniest Celebrity-branded show was a winner for charity: a 2010 Baltimore event benefiting the University of Maryland Childrens Hospital that grossed $50,000. But in that case, Siegels 501(c)3 was not involved; he was simply contracted to round up talent and the charity controlled all the money, organizer Phyllis Rabinowitz said. Michele S. Jones performs at last weeks Funniest Celebrity. (Roxanne Roberts / The Washington Post) Siegel said that recent tax records reflect a couple of bad seasons, not indicative of the 19 years. . . [but] of a few charities that really sold no tables and no tickets. He added in an e-mail that his events reap substantial free publicity and connections for the charities, which he said received some extra donations from the event directly from patrons and thus were not reflected in tax records.


Actress Karyn Parsons (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) is 47. Singer Teddy Riley is 47. Actress Emily Procter (CSI: Miami) is 45. Actor-screenwriter Matt Damon is 43. Singer Byron Reeder of Mista is 34. Actor Nick Cannon is 33. Singer-songwriter Bruno Mars is 28. Actor Angus T. Jones is 20. Oct. 9: Actor Fyvush Finkel (Boston Public, Picket Fences) is 91. R&B singer Nona Hendryx (LaBelle) is 69.

Celebrity birthdays for the week of Oct. 6-12

A Pataxo Indian takes part in the first day of  the National Indigenous Mobilization protest in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. The protest is against a proposed constitutional amendment known as PEC 215, which amends the rules for demarcation of indigenous lands. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Still, to build a balanced market for Obamacare, the administration needs an estimated 2.7 million Americans between the ages of 18 to 35 to sign up, many of whom arent tuned in to traditional news and have little to no understanding of the laws specifics. Celebrities can drive awareness, and there are not a tremendous amount of creative angles out there for [Obama] and others to talk about implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Symonds said. This is an easy way to say, I can go to this person and have them explain it rather than have a less well-known person explain a complex issue. Thats where the attention-grabbing and shareable ads, aimed at people who use Twitter to follow celebrities rather than track the congressional debacle, can play a role. A lot of people the White House and administration are trying to enroll dont exactly read Politico every morning. A lot of people the White House and administration are trying to enroll dont exactly read Politico every morning, said Ronnie Cho, who served as associate director of public engagement for the White House until last month. Plus, the measure of success is different this time. The ads are not intended to be political, he said, and awareness more than politicking and persuasion is the objective. Funny or Die, a humor website with 19 million unique monthly visitors, lent a hand with a series of promos. If we can help make [signing up for Obamacare] a normal thing, something that isnt politicized, something that comes as second nature to younger people like putting your seat belt on, that is something wed want to do, Funny or Dies president, Mike Farah, told Mother Jones after the meeting. Cho, who previously worked at The Daily Beast as community editor, dismissed any notion that the July gathering was of particular significance, saying the administration has hosted a stream of strategic conversations about implementing Obamacare, with attendees varying from youth groups to CVS pharmacy. All are vital to getting the word out about implementation to as broad an audience as possible, he said. But conservative lobbyists have been airing anti-ACA ads for months, including a particularly controversial spot featuring Uncle Sam peering between a womans legs in the doctors officeand theyre doing fairly well with viewers. According to data provided by Ace Metrix, of the nine health-care-related ads aired this year, the Democratic National Committees Impact of Obamacare scored lowest, while the three highest scoring came from groups across the aisle.