Person

Kathleen McGrath

Kathleen “Katie” McGrath is the spouse of Hollywood producer J.J. Abrams and director of the Kathleen McGrath and J.J. Abrams Family Foundation, the couple’s left-of-center private foundation. McGrath also works as co-CEO of Bad Robot Productions, the film production company founded by Abrams, and as a public relations executive. She has worked for Democratic politicians such as the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).

Children’s Defense Fund

McGrath previously served as a member of the board of directors for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), a left-of-center advocacy organization which focuses on children’s issues. While serving, McGrath and her husband, J.J. Abrams donated to help found so-called “Freedom Schools,” 6-week summer programs offered to low-income and supposedly underrepresented children which aim to teach children to participate in politics from a young age. McGrath and the Children’s Defense Fund hosted an event in 2015 using the organization’s platform to call for a ban of firearms. During the annual “Beat the Odds” awards, an event which is supposed to focus on “children’s issues,” CDF Founder Marian Wright Edelman called for a complete ban on firearms and proposed liberal ideas from the podium saying, for example, “We’ve got to retire the NRA.” McGrath and her husband, J.J. Abrams, were co-chairs of the event. [1] [2]

Political Donations

Kathleen McGrath has donated to a long list of Democratic political candidates and left-of-center causes. McGrath made a $500,000 donation to Priorities USA Action, the PAC supporting Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential campaign, and $4,600 to Barack Obama during his 2007 presidential campaign. McGrath also made a $250,000 donation to the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a Democratic Party-affiliated organization that aims to redraw the lines of congressional maps to sway elections in favor of Democratic candidates; $75,000 to the House Majority PAC, a political action committee which redistributes donations to Democratic hopefuls running for Congress; and PAC to the Future, a left-of-center PAC which aims to elect Democratic candidates to Congress.[3] [4] [5]

In May 2022, McGrath donated $125,000 to the Communities United for Bass for LA Mayor 2022, an independent committee supporting Rep. Karen Bass’ campaign in her democratic primary against Rick Caruso for mayor of Los Angeles. Her husband, film director-producer J.J Abrams, donated an additional $125,000 to the committee. [6]

Contributions to 2020 Presidential Candidates

McGrath has contributed to campaigns related to multiple Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election. McGrath made a $2,800 donation in 2019 to Kamala Harris for the People, the PAC supporting the presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California). McGrath also hosted an event in her Pacific Palisades, California home supporting the Senator.

McGrath has contributed in the past to support other Democrats who later sought the Presidency in 2020: In 2018, McGrath made a $2,700 donation to Beto for Texas, the PAC supporting Beto O’Rourke, a former Democratic U.S. Representative from Texas. O’Rourke is challenging other candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 Presidential race. In 2017, McGrath donated $16,200 to two PACs supporting Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. [7]

Foundation

The Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams Family Foundation is the California based private foundation operated and funded by J.J. Abrams and his wife. The foundation operated on a budget of $5,021,898 in 2017, all contributions coming from the Abrams McGrath Trust. The foundation spent $5,179,175 on expenses and disbursements in the same year.

The Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams Family Foundation has donated to a number of left-leaning and liberal organizations alongside local Los Angeles based initiatives. The organization gave $125,000 to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, $10,000 Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, and $1,000 to Planned Parenthood. The foundation gave $35,000 to the Brennan Center for Justice, a large left-leaning organization; the Council on American Islamic Relations, a large advocacy organization with alleged ties to political Islamist movements; $250,000 to the Obama Foundation; and $75,000 to Represent.Us, an organization which aims to increase regulation regarding campaign finance.[8]

Kathleen McGrath is labelled as the president and director of the foundation while Abrams is listed as the Secretary, treasurer, and director.[9]

References

  1. “Children’s Defense Fund Joins Forces with JJ Abrams To Celebrate Founder Marian Wright Edelman’s Vision” Forbes. Accessed July 21, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tiffanypham/2014/09/11/childrens-defense-fund-joins-forces-with-jj-abrams-to-celebrate-founder-marian-wright-edelmans-vision/#7f57e6cc1079. ^
  2. “Children’s Defense Fund Founder Blasts Gun Violence: ‘We’ve Got to Retire the NRA.’” The Hollywood Reporter. Accessed July 21, 2019. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/rambling-reporter/childrens-defense-fund-founder-blasts-845960. ^
  3. “Individual Contributions: Kathleen McGrath.” FEC. Accessed July 21, 2019. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=kathleen+mcgrath&contributor_employer=bad+robot. ^
  4. “Presidential Donor Lookup Results: Kathleen McGrath.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/search.php?cid=ALL&name=&employ=&cycle=2008&state=&zip=90272&amt=a&sort=A&page=7. ^
  5. “Kathleen McGrath: Contributions to 527 Organizations, 2018 Cycle.” Open Secrets. Accessed July 21, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/527s/527indivsdetail.php?id=U0000003622&cycle=2018. ^
  6. Oreskes, Benjamin. “Hollywood money begins to flow into committee backing Karen Bass in mayor’s race.” Los Angeles Times. Accessed May 24, 2022. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-03-17/j-j-abrams-katie-mcgrath-jeffrey-katzenberg-bass-donations-la-mayors-race ^
  7. “Individual Contributions: Kathleen McGrath.” FEC. Accessed July 21, 2019. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=kathleen+mcgrath&contributor_employer=bad+robot. ^
  8. 2017 Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: “The Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams Family Foundation.” Part XV Line 3: Grants and Contributions Paid During the Year or Approved for Future Payment. ^
  9. 2017 Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: “The Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams Family Foundation.” Part XV Line 3: Grants and Contributions Paid During the Year or Approved for Future Payment. ^
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