The Netflix executive who brokered the recent $50 million deal for Barack and Michelle Obama was a major campaign contributor to the 44th president.
Byron York, reporting for the New York Post, cited a source who said Ted Sarandos, the streaming giant’s creative content chief who oversees an $8 billion budget, bundled, along with his wife, nearly $600,000 in contributions to Obama from their friends and associates during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Last week, the Obamas signed a creative production deal with Netflix that could be valued at more than $50 million, according to an entertainment industry source.
Sarandos’ wife, Nicole Avant, served as U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas from during Obama’s first term.
The sequence of events – seen by some as an unethical quid pro quo and others as a mere coincidental benefit of ongoing professional relationships – is the kind of wealth-building spotlighted by investigative reporter Peter Schweizer in his books “Clinton Cash” and “Secret Empires: How Our Politicians Hide Corruption and Enrich Their Families and Friends”. “Clinton Cash” spotlights the enormous wealth built by Bill and Hillary Clinton while Hillary Clinton ran for president and served as secretary of state, including the $145 million from uranium investors donated to the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s $500,000 speaking fee from a Russian bank tied to the Kremlin before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped decide whether to approve the sale to the Russian government of a company that held one-fifth of America’s uranium capacity.
Schweizer’s new book, “Secret Empires,” centers on what he calls “corruption by proxy,” in which family and friends of powerful political figures position themselves as middlemen, creating “previously unimaginable pathways to wealth.”
The multi-year Netflix agreement, the New York Post reported, calls on the Obamas “to produce a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docuseries, documentaries and features.”
The show will be broadcast in 190 countries, according to Netflix, which has 125 million subscribers worldwide.
The Obamas plan to work on stories that “promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples and help them share their stories with the entire world.”
Last year, the Obamas signed a joint book deal with Penguin Random House valued at more than $65 million. Barack Obama also has been speaking to groups about grassroots organizing and the problems of the poor.
The Post noted he was paid $400,000 for a speech last September at a health care conference sponsored by Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald.
The Obamas also have their own foundation, which took in more than $13 million in 2016. The foundation is developing a $500 million presidential center and library in Chicago.