Handler-Bryce Fundraiser “Postponed” After Media Trackers Inquiries

By James Wigderson for Media Trackers

A “happy hour” fundraiser planned for the end of January for Randy Bryce for Congress with former comedian Chelsea Handler and Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02) was “postponed” indefinitely without explanation after inquiries by Media Trackers on Thursday.

Handler stirred up controversy last week with an obscenity-laced rant on Twitter questioning the sexuality of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

“Holy, f— f—. I just the video of trumps bipartisan “meeting” yesterday,” Handler posted. “Hey, @LindseyGrahamSC what kind of d— s—–g video do they have on you for you 2 be acting like this? Wouldn’t coming out be more honorable?”

Handler was supposed to appear at the fundraiser in Madison for Bryce on January 31 with the event hosted by Pocan. Tickets to the “Randy Bryce for Congress Happy Hour Fundraiser” ranged in cost from $1000 for “Host (VIP)” attendees to “Limited Entry” at $25 each. However, the venue has removed the event from their webpage and an employee confirmed that the event is no longer taking place as scheduled.

Bryce is one of two Democrats in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District hoping to take on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) in November. Since Bryce’s announcement video attracted national attention last year, it’s been reported Bryce was late on his child support payments, a debtor was paid after a lawyer from the Democratic Party negotiated a settlement, and an ethics complaint was filed against him for not submitting his Financial Disclosure Statement.

The Republican National Congressional Committee sharply criticized the planned fundraising event on Thursday before it was postponed.

“It’s only been a week since Chelsea Handler’s homophobic rant on Twitter – but Randy Bryce clearly won’t let that get in the way of a good happy hour,” said Chris Martin, spokesman for the NRCC. “Maybe Red Carpet Randy plans to start a comedy tour with all the free time he’ll have after November. Why else would he be so obsessive about hobnobbing with the Hollywood elite?”

Media Trackers attempted to find out from Bryce and Pocan if the event was still scheduled after Handler’s Twitter post and to get a comment from the two Democrats. An email to Bryce’s spokesman Lauren Hitt and a phone call to Pocan’s campaign with a follow-up email were not returned Thursday.

The Majestic Theater in Madison was the planned venue for the fundraiser for Bryce and promoted the event on their website.

“Please join us for a happy hour with Chelsea Handler and Randy ‘Ironstache’ Bryce, hosted by Mark Pocan, to help raise funds for Randy Bryce for Congress,” the Majestic Theater’s website said. “Randy Bryce is a U.S. Army veteran, cancer survivor, union ironworker, lifelong Wisconsinite, and our best chance to defeat House Speaker Paul Ryan and start to make real change in 2018.”

An email from Lauren Toler at The Majestic Theater directed us to contact the campaigns about the event, saying they were merely holding the event there and were not organizing the fundraiser.

Shortly after our inquiries, The Majestic Theater pulled down the advertisement for the event from their website, but not before Media Trackers made screen captures of the event details.

In a follow-up call to the theater after the advertisement was pulled, an employee named Chelsea was unable to get Toler to the phone, but Chelsea confirmed that the event was postponed. No future date for the event was given, and once again we were directed to the campaigns.

An email to an organizer of the event, Alison Modrak of G Strategies, also went unanswered Thursday. G Strategies is a Democratic political consulting firm.

A Google search could not find any statements by Pocan or Bryce condemning the remarks or distancing themselves from Chandler. However, both Pocan and Bryce have recently criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-01) for not speaking out forcefully or quickly enough against President Donald Trump’s alleged statement about “s—h— countries.”

Handler is scheduled to make an appearance the following day in Appleton at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center for a show titled, “A Conversation with Chelsea Handler.” As reported by Media Trackers last week, Fox Cities PAC’s Director of Marketing and Communications Trisha Witt claimed she was unaware of the controversy and the show would go on as scheduled.

As of Thursday, Handler’s Twitter post had 5,646 retweets and 26,080 “likes.” The Twitter post was mentioned in Variety, Fox News, Entertainment Weekly, AOL News, and even The Daily Mail.