Sunday, June 10, 2007

Paris Hilton donation to LA Sheriff Lee Baca

Paris Hilton's grandfather gave sheriff donation

By Peta Hellard in Los Angeles

June 11, 2007 12:00

PARIS Hilton's billionaire grandfather donated money to the election campaign of the sheriff who released the 26-year-old from jail, it was revealed yesterday.

The contribution from William Barron Hilton, 78, co-chairman of the Hilton Hotel chain, to Sheriff Lee Baca's re-election campaign is revealed in financial records and a friend of the Hilton family said the temporary release of the heiress last week may have been a "quid pro quo".

"A member of her family has been a contributor to Baca's campaign and this may have been payback time," the friend said.

"Her entourage initially were confident she would be out of jail in a few days."

Sheriff Baca, who has faced heavy criticism for attempting to overrule the judge in the case, has in the past been accused of favouritism towards the Hollywood elite.

He was the officer at the centre of a row when he failed to report Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic tirade after the star was arrested for drink-driving. Gibson had filmed television advertisements for one of Sheriff Baca's pet causes – an education fund for policemen's children.

Celebrities including Sylvester Stallone and Dustin Hoffman have also backed the Sheriff's election campaigns since 1998.

Meanwhile, as Hilton settles in for a lengthy stay in jail, fellow celebrities have spoken out against her.

"All heiresses should be put in prison on general principle," actor John Cusack said.

Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson was also critical of the amount of publicity Hilton's jailing had attracted.

"The story is way bigger than what it needs to be," he said. "C'mon! For real!"

Hilton herself seems to agree with that opinion, releasing a statement saying she was "shocked" by the attention her case has received.

"I would hope going forward that the public and the media will focus on more important things like the men and women serving our country in Iraq and other places around the world," she said.

The heiress has reportedly not eaten or slept since arriving at the medical ward of the Los Angeles jail where she was taken after her temporary release.

She "has been crying a lot, praying" and is "extremely withdrawn", jail sources said.

Nevertheless, the socialite said she had told her lawyers not to appeal against the order that sent her back to jail.

"Being in jail is by far the hardest thing I have ever done," she said in a written statement issued by her lawyer, Richard Hutton.

"During the past several days, I have had a lot of time to think and I believe that I am learning and growing from this experience."

She also thanked her fans for their good wishes and said she missed her family.