- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2009

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Make a minimum donation of $5 to the Presidential Inaugural Committee and get a shot at a ticket to the historic inauguration of Barack Obama … or you could make no donation at all and still have a chance.

The fundraising effort is intended to help raise money for the inaugural from small donors and avoid the traditional lobbyist and corporate donors of years past, said committee spokeswoman Linda Douglass.

Each entry requires an essay on what the inauguration means to you. The essay is required whether a donation is made or not, she said.

The offer of inaugural tickets to 10 people — who each may bring one guest — will take into account diversity, Mrs. Douglass said. She added that fundraising is not the main goal of the effort.

However, the inaugural committee sent out an e-mail pitch that focused on donations, suggesting that those who make a minimum donation of $5 or more could get a trip to the inaugural.

“Make a donation of $5 or more right now,” the e-mail says. “You and a guest could receive your ticket to history.”

After clicking on the link to make a donation, the giving options start at $25, going up to $2,500, with an “other” option at the end. The Web page also says that you can make a pitch for the inaugural tickets without donating anything.

“Unlike past inaugurations, this year’s event will not be paid for by Washington lobbyists,” the e-mail says. “The Presidential Inaugural Committee is not accepting donations from PACs, federally registered lobbyists, or corporations. Help start this administration off right - independent of the special interest donors who have shaped Washington for too long.”

For those selected, the committee will provide transportation and lodging, as well as admission to the swearing-in and to an official inaugural ball.

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