Stars help Obama raise inauguration cash

After nearly four weeks of fundraising, President-elect Obama’s inauguration committee has raised almost $10 million, in part through donations from Hollywood stars like Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson.

In an unprecedented move this week, the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) unveiled an online searchable database of donors who have given more than $200. Jackson and Stone each gave $50,000, the maximum amount for individuals and the most common donation amount.

Other notable donors include actors Halle Berry, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Jamie Foxx, as well as Wendy and Laurance Rockefeller, and Lisa Henson, the daughter of Muppets creator Jim Henson.

Culminating on Jan. 20, the multi-million dollar four-day event is expected to draw as many as four million visitors to Washington D.C., as part of the largest inauguration event ever.

Some have wondered whether Obama would be able to continue the unparalleled fundraising efforts that characterized his election campaign. He is still far away from reaching the $50 million goal but it is not without precedent that inaugural fundraising started slowly. President Bush’s inaugural committee had raised $18 million only weeks before his 2005 inauguration. But in the end, the committee raised a record $42.8 million.

The decision to list Obama’s donors was made in part to demonstrate the transparency that Obama has vowed to make central to his presidency.

“The need for accountability doesn't begin when the oath of office is taken,” said Emmett S. Beliveau, executive director of the PIC. “It needs to be a part of every step in the process. Our new database is one of the first steps toward a more open and transparent Washington.”