Obama Accepts Unlimited Corporate Contributions for Inaugural Events; Isn’t Saying How Much

January 5, 2013 - 10:46 AM

 

Inaugural Events

President Barack Obama dances with first lady Michelle Obama at inaugural ball in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama’s inaugural committee on late Friday released a list of individuals and corporations contributing money to fund events surrounding the president’s Jan. 20 inauguration but did not reveal how much they contributed, the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group reported on Friday evening.

In 2009, the group notes, Obama's inaugural committee did not accept corporate contributions, limited individual contributions to $50,000 or less and, more than a month before the inauguration, published a searchable list of all donors, that included who they worked for, where they lived and how much they gave.

On Friday evening, by contrast, the Presidential Inaugural Committee merely added a link at the bottom of its website with a list of only the names of the individuals and corporations that have contributed. (The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group included links both to Obama’s 2009 database and the stripped-down 2013 list of names to show the contrast.)

“There are no limits this time,” Sunlight Foundation reporter Keenan Steiner reported. “In the solicitation outlining the donor benefits in early December, institutions (which would include corporations) were asked to give as much as $1 million and individuals $250,000.”

“Moreover, this time around, the inaugural committee followed the time-tested Inside the Beltway method for burying the news: waiting until late in the day and Friday and quietly adding a new link on its inaugural website,” the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group said. “No press release or announcement.”

The Sunlight Foundation report linked to a copy of the email that the Presidential Inaugural Committee sent out telling potential contributors what sort of access they would get to inaugural events based on the generosity of their contribution.

The email said, for example, that an individual contributing $250,000 and a corporation contributing $1 million would be given the “Washington Premium Partner Access.” That package includes two tickets to a “Benefactors Reception” held two or three days before the inauguration, an invitation to an event called “The Finance Committee ‘Road Ahead’ meeting,” two tickets to The Childrens Concert, two tickets to the “Co-Chairs Reception,” four tickets to a candlelight reception at the National Building Museum, at invitation to the VIP reception at prior to this reception, two reserved seats in the bleachers at the inaugural parade and four tickets to the inaugural.

Eventually, the Obama inaugural committee will need to report the names of its contributors, along with how much they contributed and where they live and work, to the Federal Election Commission. But, the Sunlight Foundation notes, the committee will not need to do so until April, well after the inauguration.

The bare list of Obama's inauguration contributors can be found by going to the Obama inauguration home page, scrolling all the way down to the bottom of the page, and clicking on the word “Benefactors.”

Corporations currently listed as “Benefactors” to the inaugural committee (but without the amount of their contributions) are: AT&T, Centene Corporation, Genentech, Financial Innovations Inc., Microsoft, Stream Line Circle LLC, and the Whittier Trust Co.

In its own report published late Friday about the corporate contributors to Obama’s inaugural committee, the Washington Post noted some of the interests of these corporations.

In addition to AT&T and Microsoft, the Post said, “Other corporate donors include Genentech, a biotechnology company owned by Swiss drugmaker Roche; Stream Line Circle, run by billionaire Obama backer and gay-rights activist Jon Stryker; and the Centene Corp., a Medicaid administration company and one of the major beneficiaries of the president's signature health-care law.

“Another donor was Financial Innovations, a maker of promotional products that got $1.8 million in business from Obama's 2012 campaign,” the Post reported.

The Sunlight Foundation noted that the primary costs of the inauguration are funded by U.S. taxpayers.

“Taxpayers cover most of the cost, estimated to be around $170 million in 2009, according to ABC News,” the foundation reported. “The public money mostly goes toward security and logistics, including the cost of staging the official swearing-in on the National Mall, where 600,000 to 800,000 people are expected to be on hand."