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Obama inauguration fueled by corporations, unions
Chevron, Boeing and other companies whose fortunes are heavily dependent on government action or inaction were among the companies that gave $23 million to President Obama for his inauguration party, with the politician who ordinarily demonizes corporate money relying primarily on such sources, rather than individuals, for the $44 million gala in January.
AT&T Inc. gave $4.6 million, Microsoft Corp. gave $2.1 million, oil giant Chevron Corp. and defense contractor Boeing Co. gave $1 million each, and healthcare firm Genentech Inc. gave $750,000, a filing showed this weekend.
Unions also pitched in heavily, with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Teamsters, the National Education Association and the International Association of Firefighters giving a quarter-million each, on top of a half-million from the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices.
Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign rejected funds from corporate political action committees and lobbyists, asserting that it amounted to interest-peddling, as did his 2009 inauguration. The nonprofit that Mr. Obama is now using to rally the public behind his legislative priorities initially said it would accept corporate money but then changed course. That makes the inaugural party the most direct example to date of corporations currying financial favor with Mr. Obama.
The funds helped finance the parade and other festivities surrounding Mr. Obama’s ceremonial swearing-in Jan. 21. Large-dollar donors got special tickets to exclusive balls with political VIPs.
“Our guidelines aren’t just consistent with the law — they are consistent with the president’s commitment to transparency and to reducing the influence of PACs and lobbyists in Washington,” the inaugural committee said in a statement.
One goal in letting corporations foot the bill seemed to be mitigating donor fatigue among Mr. Obama’s donors, who had been bombarded with incessant requests for months.
“President Obama is the only president who has refused to accept donations from PACs and lobbyists for his inaugural committee,” it said — a refusal that means nothing given that the corporations those PACs and lobbyists represent could give directly.
Unlike contributions to political campaigns, the law allows gifts of any size to inaugural committees, but previous presidents have imposed their own limits, with George W. Bush accepting contributions of $100,000 or less in 2001 and $250,000 or less in 2005.
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About the Author
Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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