US midterm elections: Brian Cox and Alan Cumming among Scots bankrolling Democrats

They are the Scots in America putting their hand in their pockets to determine the nation’s future.

A host of Scottish stars living in the US have made scores of donations to Democratic causes ahead of this week’s crucial midterm elections. Brian Cox, the Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning actor, has made nearly 50 donations to Democrats since the start of the year, while his fellow actor, Alan Cumming, has given a four-figure sum to a congressional hopeful in his home city of New York.

Others backing Democratic campaigns and candidates include the former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, and Kevin McKidd, who has carved out a successful acting career stateside after finding fame with his role as Tommy in Trainspotting.

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Americans will head to the polls on Wednesday to vote on which senators, representatives and governors will be elected. The results will determine who controls the House of Representatives and the US Senate while Joe Biden serves the last two years of his first term as president. The crunch elections has seen the 50 biggest donors in the US give more than $1 billion [£900 million] to date, but countless other individual donors have made smaller contributions.

While US election finance law prohibits foreign nationals living in the country from making political donations, all the Scots in question are able to contribute thanks to the fact they either hold US citizenship, dual nationality or Green Cards. The latter status confers permanent US residency rights, and allows individuals to make political donations, despite the fact they cannot cast a vote.

Cox, who has enjoyed renewed fame in recent years thanks to his role as Logan Roy in the hit television series Succession, has made 46 donations in 2022 to date totalling $880, records maintained by the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) show. They include $100 earmarked for the re-election campaign of Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, with other donations going to incumbent Democratic senators Raphael Warnock, Cory Booker and Catherine Cortez Masto.

The 76 year-old, who has properties in Brooklyn and upstate New York, has also given money to a range of political action committees (PACs) such as Democratic Action and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Last year, Cox made 37 donations worth $575, with the beneficiaries including the Democratic congressman Adam Schiff.

As well as being a prominent supporter of Scottish independence, the Dundee-born actor has been increasingly vocal in US political circles. Earlier this year, he expressed dismay at how the country had elected former US president Donald Trump, telling Deadline: “You go, ‘how the **** can this country vote for such a ******* *******? And yet, this part of this country will, you know, adore him. What is it they adore? What is it they want? And how disappointing that is.”

Musician David Byrne, originally from Dumbarton, is among those Scots to have donated ahead of the crunch elections. Picture: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for The Moth)

Cumming, another actor and fellow independence supporter, has also been politically active in the US. FEC records show he donated $1,000 to the campaign of Suraj Patel, who describes himself as a “practical and progressive” Democrat. The lawyer and former Obama administration staffer is running in New York against the incumbent Republican Carolyn Maloney. He was unsuccessful in previous attempts to enter Congress in 2018 and 2020.

Earlier this year, Cumming, from Aberfeldy, returned to the cabaret stage in New York for a special concert to raise funds for Patel, who he described as a “great candidate”. The Scot added: “He upholds the values that I also hold dear. He fights against injustice, he calls out the corrupt, and he cares for those less fortunate than himself.”

Another Scottish-born star living in New York, David Byrne, has made modest donations to the Democrats in recent months. The veteran musician, originally from Dumbarton, has made two donations via ActBlue – an online fundraising facility that allows donors to direct their money to various Democratic efforts – totalling $100 since May.

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The funds have gone to the campaigns of John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate in a key Senate race in Pennsylvania, and Sherrod Brown, the Democratic senator in Ohio. Byrne, who has said he hopes history looks back on the Trump presidency as “a near miss” for the US, has previously donated thousands of dollars to political action committees supporting former president Barack Obama.

Succession star Brian Cox has given scores of donations to the Democrats ahead of the US midterm elections. Picture: David Livingston/Getty

Elsewhere, McKidd has made 14 separate donations to ActBlue. The largest single donation by the actor and director, who now lives in Los Angeles, California, was $50 for the campaign to re-elect Jamie Raskin, the Democratic congressman and constitutional law professor who led the push to impeach Trump for a second time.

The majority of his donations have gone to campaigns supporting the re-election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, widely tipped as a future Democratic presidential candidate. McKidd, from Elgin, has also given to PACs including the Democratic National Congress and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Other Brits based in the US have also given money to the Democrats. Dame Helen Mirren, who holds dual American and British citizenship and lives in Nevada, has contributed $400 to Catherine Cortez Masto’s re-election campaign. Hollywood actor Christian Bale, who was born in Wales, has given $5,000 to John Fetterman’s campaign.

However, such donations pale in comparison to the sums being given by other celebrities in the US. The Hollywood director, Steven Spielberg, has made dozens of sizable donations this year, including $1m to the pro-Democrat Senate Majority PAC. Seth MacFarlane, best known as the creator of the animated comedy series Family Guy, has given around $1.8m to Democratic campaigns, including $263,000 to the Nancy Pelosi Victory Fund PAC.

Actor Alan Cumming has staged a fundraising show for his local Democratic candidate, as well as putting his hand in his pocket. Picture: Gabriel Olsen/Getty

There are also some famous donors on the other side of the US political spectrum, including Jack Nicklaus. The golfing legend has given $10,000 to Republican campaigns since the turn of the year.

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