Val Kilmer Was in DC This Week Lobbying for What?!


Val Kilmer is a part-time Washington lobbyist now.

Earlier this week, the film and stage actor (Batman Forever, Top Gun, The Doors, MacGruber) was on Capitol Hill advocating for the Equitable Access to Care and Health Act, which would expand Americans’ ability to claim religious exemptions to Obamacare‘s health insurance mandate. Kilmer alerted the world to his latest foray into political advocacy with a series of tweets, which included a photo taken at the Hart Senate Office Building.

The description of “lobbyist” here should not be taken literally; a search on the House lobbying disclosure webpage does not yield Kilmer’s name.

The EACH Act is sponsored by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), best known for getting his six-pack abs splashed on the cover of Men’s Health. Under the EACH Act, Americans can avoid the insurance mandate if they file an affidavit stating that their religious faith bars them from buying insurance. Various religious groups have fiercely opposed the law, and Obamacare already includes a “religious conscience exemption.”

Kilmer did not respond to requests for comment and it’s not known whom he met with (he reportedly had dinner with Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York). “We have no idea why he was at the Hill; we have nothing to do with that part of his life,” a representative for the actor said. “He doesn’t have a publicist now, and he doesn’t really do interviews.”

Kilmer’s visit is likely linked to his religious faith; he is a committed Christian Scientist. “It is quite a challenging faith,” he told Esquire in 2005. Certain Christian Scientists’ beliefs about health care, particularly their denial of modern medical care to children, are controversial, to say the least.

This isn’t the 53-year-old actor first brush with politics. A few years ago, Kilmer considered making a run for governor of New Mexico, consulting with strategists and politicos; then-New Mexico governor Bill Richardson said he liked Kilmer’s prospects partly because “he was Batman.” He has engaged in some environmental activism and supported Ralph Nader in the 2008 presidential election. In 2010, Kilmer teamed up with the ACLU to win the right to convert his ranch near Santa Fe into a posh bed-and-breakfast.

It’s hard to say if Val Kilmer will continue his public charge for Obamacare religious exemptions. As for merging elements of his faith and profession, it’s still a work in progress: For more than a decade Kilmer has been working on a “tragicomic” film about Mark Twain—and Christian Science church founder Mary Baker Eddy.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

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