Update (1/23/19): The Williamson County Republican Party announced on January 17 that “Kilmeade will not be speaking at Reagan Day due to scheduling conflicts” and replaced the event with a “victory party” featuring Republican officials. Williamson GOP officials and Fox News did not respond to requests for comment about the cancelation.
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade is headlining a fundraiser for Republicans just months after he claimed he had “no interest in giving to any campaign.”
Kilmeade donated $601.71 to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. When news of the donation surfaced last October, Kilmeade told The Hill that he “bought ornaments two years ago before Christmas for people that like Donald Trump” and “had no idea that this would be considered a donation.” He also defended himself by claiming to be above financially helping politicians, stating: ” Even if I wasn't in this business, I would never be giving contributions out to people. Especially after an election … I have no interest in giving to any campaign about anything."
But Kilmeade apparently has no problem being the face of a GOP fundraiser that requires a political contribution to attend and stands to financially help Republican campaigns.
The Williamson County Republican Party in Tennessee recently announced that Kilmeade will be the keynote speaker of its annual Reagan Day Dinner, which is the party’s “largest fundraiser.” An invitation to the February 16 event, which will also feature Rep.-elect Mark Green (R-TN), says that ticket prices start at $150 per person and a “VIP reception” with Kilmeade costs $200.
The Williamson County GOP states that the organization exists “to facilitate events and dialogue among Republicans across Middle Tennessee” and helps “elect Republicans in Williamson County and throughout the state of Tennessee.”
As Media Matters has repeatedly documented, Fox News hosts and contributors have done fundraising events for Republican parties and candidates (and sometimes get paid to do them). Pete Hegseth, who co-hosts the weekend edition of Fox & Friends, also regularly does Republican fundraisers. In 2018, Hegseth was paid to keynote a fundraiser for a Republican committee in Michigan with then-Senate candidate John James and then repeatedly interviewed James on his program (Hegseth didn’t disclose the financial connection on Fox News).
Despite ample evidence to the contrary, Fox News has claimed it “does not condone any talent participating in campaign events.”
It’s not clear whether Kilmeade is getting paid for the speaking gig. Either way, Kilmeade would likely financially benefit from the fundraiser: The invitation states that Republicans will “receive a copy of Brian’s new book 'Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans'” with their ticket.
The Williamson County Republican Party and Fox News did not respond to requests for comment.