Fox News allows host Jeanine Pirro to work as a paid GOP fundraising speaker
Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI
Fox News host and legal analyst Jeanine Pirro has found a lucrative side gig headlining Republican Party fundraisers. The network has claimed that it prohibits hosts from stumping for political candidates but has no apparent objection to hosts fundraising for party committees.
Pirro is a longtime friend of President Donald Trump who hosts the weekend program Judge Jeanine, where she pushes pro-Trump propaganda. The New York Times recently reported that Trump “rarely misses” her show and that Pirro “interviewed to be the deputy attorney general, according to three transition officials.”
It’s not surprising that Pirro would want to help Republicans given her openly partisan background. But Fox News has suggested it has some rules for its opinion hosts. The Times reported in an October 25 profile of Laura Ingraham, who headlined a campaign fundraiser for Senate candidate Kelli Ward (R-AZ), that “Fox News hosts are not usually allowed to stump for candidates, but Ms. Ingraham was granted an exception because her show had not yet begun.”
That reported prohibition seems meaningless in the context of Pirro’s fundraising efforts. She has done at least 10 fundraisers this year for Republican Party organizations that help elect GOP candidates, according to a Media Matters review.
While campaign finance data for all of those events is not publicly available, Media Matters found that Pirro was paid for speaking in at least five instances by the hosting group, either through her corporation Judge Jeanine Pirro Inc. or the speakers bureau that represents her.
Pirro has made no secret that she’s helping raise money for Republican Party groups. On her April 22 program she said that she “gave a good speech" at a Republican fundraiser in Morgantown, WV, and received a scarf as a gift. The hosting group, the Monongalia County Republican Executive Committee, wrote on Facebook in response: “Judge Jeanine Pirro wearing, on national television, the scarf of ‘Presidents Signatures’ given to her by our Chair Gina Brown on behalf of the Committee as a thank you gift for her speaking at our Reagan Dinner! She mentioned us and our Committee while closing her show tonight!”
Fox News and Pirro did not respond to requests for comment or clarification about the network's policies.
Pirro has been an active fundraiser for Republican Party organizations this year. For instance:
- Pirro was the headline speaker for the Alachua County Republican Party’s Ronald Reagan Black Tie and Blue Jeans BBQ in Florida on November 9.
- Pirro was the keynote speaker for the Volusia County Republican Party’s October 8 Lincoln Day Dinner in Florida. The organization paid a little more than $20,000 to Pirro for her speaking fee and book purchases, according to Federal Election Commission data. (Note: Pirro’s fee amount was updated with new FEC information that was filed after the publication of this piece.)
- Pirro was the featured speaker for the Republican Party of Arkansas’ Reagan Rockefeller Dinner on July 28. The party disbursed $15,000 to Pirro, according to the organization's state campaign finance report.
- Pirro was the keynote speaker for the Monongalia County Republican Executive Committee’s April 21 Reagan Dinner in West Virginia.
- Pirro was the headline speaker for the Bonneville County GOP’s Lincoln Day Banquet on March 31 in Idaho. The organization later posted a picture on Facebook of Pirro at her Fox News set with the caption: “The freedom mink and gold nugget necklace we gave Judge Jeanine Pirro are sitting right on her desk!”
- Pirro was the headliner for the Republican Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth’s Lincoln Day Dinner on March 20 in Pennsylvania. The organization paid a little over $5,000 for the appearance, according to the group’s state campaign finance report.
- Pirro was the featured speaker at the Columbiana County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner on March 23 in Ohio.
- Pirro was the special guest for the Erie County Republican Committee’s Lincoln Leadership Reception on March 9 in New York. The committee paid Pirro roughly $7,500, according to the group’s campaign finance report.
- Pirro was the keynote speaker for the Kent County Republican Committee’s February 18 Lincoln Day Dinner in Delaware.
- Pirro was the headliner for the Georgia Republican Party’s President’s Day Dinner on March 13. The organization paid the Premiere Speakers Bureau, which represents Pirro, $15,000 on the day of the event for “Speakers Fee - Presidents Day Dinner.”
Pirro’s fundraising appearances will continue into 2018: The Sangamon County Republican Central Committee in Illinois recently announced that Pirro will headline the group’s February 8 Lincoln Day Dinner.
Media Matters has documented how Fox News hosts and commentators -- in addition to their on-air conservative rhetoric -- actively help Republican-aligned groups grow their coffers at partisan events. The pro-Trump group Great America Alliance recently created a fundraising page prominently featuring Fox News’ logo and celebrating the news that senior adviser Tomi Lahren had been hired as a Fox News contributor. That page was taken down after Media Matters asked Fox News whether it had approved the use of its logo.