Corporations to Fund Obama Inaugural Festivities

Monday, December 10, 2012
Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration

Abandoning President Obama’s disdain for corporate donations, which were banned from his first inauguration and from the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the Presidential Inauguration Committee announced last week that it will accept contributions from corporations.

Good government advocates were quick to criticize the decision. John Wonderlich, policy director of the Sunlight Foundation, wrote that the decision “prioritizes a lavish celebration over the integrity of the office,” and that Obama was “turning away from a principled approach to money in politics.”


Obama supporters defended the decision as necessary, arguing that after the most expensive election campaign in history, Obama’s donor base is tapped out and unable to foot the bill even for scaled back inauguration celebrations. They also point out that the committee will screen all donations for conflicts of interests like failure to repay bailout funds or pending government contracts, will not accept money from lobbyists or PACs, and will disclose the identity of all contributors and amounts regularly on the committee website.


As with other recent inaugurations, naming rights are not on the table, so there will not be a “Microsoft Inaugural Parade.” Instead, the committee is offering corporations and other institutions that contribute $1 million exclusive access to a variety of inaugural festivities, including tickets to a “Benefactors’ Reception,” a children’s concert, a candlelight celebration at the National Building Museum, two reserved parade bleacher seats and four tickets to the president’s official inaugural ball.


The committee is offering several inaugural packages, each with a different mix of goodies and named for a president: Washington ($1 million from institutions and $250,000 from individuals); Adams ($500,000 from institutions and $150,000 from individuals); Jefferson ($250,000 from institutions and $75,000 from individuals); and Madison ($100,000 from institutions and $10,000 from individuals).


The committee did indicate that Obama’s second inauguration will be smaller than four years ago, with only three official inaugural balls, down from ten in 2009.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

For Corporate Donors, Inauguration Details (by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times)

Corporate Money Allowed for Inaugural Donations (by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times)

Obama to Take Corporate Cash for Inauguration (by Donovan Slack, Politico)

Obama Inauguration Committee Opens Door To Unlimited Corporate Donations (by Christina Wilkie, Huffington Post)

Bailed-Out Banks Donate to Obama Inauguration (AllGov)


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