Inaugural Pro Quo

Obama to accept corporate donations for inauguration, New York Times buries story

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December 9, 2012

President Barack Obama is soliciting donations from corporations and wealthy individuals for his inauguration festivities in a reversal of his previous policy, the New York Times reported.

The corporations and individuals will get special access to inaugural events in return for the donations, with the amount of access depending on the amount of money given.

The Times, burying the news on page A30 of the national edition, wrote:

President Obama’s finance team is offering corporations and other institutions that contribute $1 million exclusive access to an array 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 offerings are detailed in an online inaugural fund-raising solicitation provided to The New York Times by an Obama fund-raiser. The document describes four packages that Mr. Obama’s finance team can sell, with differing levels of access depending on the level of contribution. Individuals who contribute $250,000 will receive the same package as million-dollar "institutional donors," which could include corporations, philanthropies, foundations and unions.

The Times noted that the president did not accept corporate donations at all in 2009, and limited donations from individuals to $50,000.

Some took exception to the president’s newfound acceptance of massive donations, the Times reported, pointing to a blog post by the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group. The post reads, in part:

The decision prioritizes a lavish celebration over the integrity of the office, and bodes poorly for an administration whose first term can be characterized as slowly turning away from a principled approach to money in politics in favor of political expediency and fundraising.