If you thought Robert Redford was politically active, that’s nothin’ compared to what he’s doing leading up to the midterm elections. Next week, Redford joins with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and others in a P.R. push for U.S. energy independence that will create 3 million jobs in the process as labor and environmental leaders gather for the “Take Back America” conference June 12-14 in Washington D.C. by the Campaign for America’s Future. Redford is helping launch the Apollo Challenge, the campaign to encourage elected leaders to end America’s addiction to oil and build a clean, economically beneficial energy system. It draws its inspiration from JFK’s original “Apollo” initiative, which in 1961 challenged the nation to put a man on the moon within the decade and return him safely to Earth. Redford has been using his star power and Sundance spread for eco-causism even more lately than usual: he hosted the Sundance Summit, a three-day retreat on climate change — complete with tutorials on emissions-trading programs and retrofitting public transport — for a bipartisan group of 46 mayors representing nearly 10 million U.S. city-dwellers.
As this fall’s midterm elections approach, fund-raising is where Redford makes a difference. News reports noted that, back in March, he was guest of honor at a NYC fundraiser (held at billionaire tycoon Ron Perelman’s mansion) for Florida Senate Democrat Bill Nelson. Redford agreed to help because Nelson has called for a moratorium on offshore drilling off Florida’s coast. Of course, the fact that Nelson might be facing Katharine Harris in the fall was just a bonus. As I reported after 2002’s midterm elections, Redford was shaking hands and talking politics in South Carolina (in front of a wall-size poster depicting the final bullet-riddled scene of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) for the Senate Democratic contender. Before an audience (packed with women), Bob pulled in an impressive haul of $300,000 at two separate fund-raisers. Private lunch with Redford was $10,000 a plate; just hearing Redford’s five-minute stump speech went for $1,000. (By contrast, the Republican opponent’s campaign lunch with Vice President Dick Cheney fetched just $250.) Besides support for 20-some House members in 2002, Redford also hosted fund-raisers for Colorado’s moderate Democrat locked in a neck-and-neck Senate race with an incumbent hardline Republican.