Aggressive fundraising by President Obama's inaugural committee could end up helping to fund his future presidential library, the watchdog group the Sunlight Foundation reported Thursday.
Several recent presidential inaugural committees have ended up with surpluses, and there are no rules for how the excess money can be spent. In preparation for this year's festivities, Mr. Obama has reversed his ban on corporate donors for the inaugural festivities, lifted the lid on inaugural contributions and is soliciting up to $1 million for certain VIP ticket packages.
Noting that the president's inaugural committee has "radically downsized" the number of official inaugural balls to two, Keenan Steiner of the Sunlight Reporting Group asks in a new analysis, "What's he planning to do with all the money?"
"There has been a trail of clues about where the money ends up," Mr. Steiner wrote. "If past practice is any indication, the 2013 inaugural party leftovers may end up going to Obama's future presidential library."
No foundation has been created yet for that project, which could end up costing $500 million. The University of Chicago and University of Hawaii are competing to host his library.
In 2009, Mr. Obama's inaugural committee raised $53.24 million, a record. The next highest total was the $42.3 million raised by President George W. Bush's committee in 2005.
President Clinton's inaugural committee gave between $1 million and $5 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation for his presidential library, Sunlight officials said. The George W. Bush Presidential Center, which includes a museum, think tank and library set to open in April, has raised more than $400 million but has not disclosed its funders.
Inaugural fundraising has grown dramatically — in 1977, the committee organizing Jimmy Carter's inaugural events raised an estimated $3.5 million.
The 2013 Inaugural Committee, like the ones before it, is not required to disclose its spending to the Federal Election Commission. It must report later only the names of people who donated to it.
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