Obama’s inauguration committee limits donations

Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaIntelligence for the days after President Trump leaves office Barack Obama sends Valentine's message to Michelle: 'She does get down to Motown' For 2020, Democrats are lookin’ for somebody to love MORE’s inauguration committee announced Tuesday that it would limit corporate and politically-tied money in funding the swearing-in of the Democrat on Jan. 20.

The Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC) said in a statement that it would not “accept contributions from corporations, political action committees (PACs), current federally registered lobbyists, non-U.S. citizens and registered foreign agents.”


Inauguration funding totals have grown over the years, and though the law does not restrict sources of funding or how much money committees can accept, former presidents have imposed caps following public criticism.

President Clinton’s inaugural committee in 1997 raised $23.7 million with a self-imposed $100,000 cap. President Bush’s inaugural committee raised $40 million in 2001 and put a $100,000 cap on contributions. 

But Bush’s committee in 2005 set a cap of $250,000 on the way to raising $42.8 million. Corporations and their executives provided for more than 90 percent of the donations, according to the non-profit watchdog group, Public Citizen.

“It’s better than what we’ve ever seen before,” said Craig Holman, legislative representative for Public Citizen, of Obama’s donation restrictions. “None of the previous presidents has ever prohibited contributions from corporations, or PACs, or registered lobbyists for the inaugural activities. So what we’re seeing is a marked shift.”

Obama’s committee also said it would not take individual donations larger than $50,000. The majority of those individual donors are likely to be the heads of large and wealthy corporations that want to buy influence with Obama, according to Holman.

“(Obama’s) imposing a tougher standard on himself than anyone previously,” Holman said. “It’s going to be mostly, almost exclusively, wealthy individuals throwing in large chunks of money. These are going to be CEOs of businesses who want to catch his ear and they’re the ones who’ll be throwing in $50,000.”

Much of the money is going to be used to open up areas on the National Mall that have not been available to the public in past inaugurations said Linda Douglass, a spokesperson for the committee.

“We’re talking about putting JumboTron TV screens around with sound systems so that as many people as possible can witness the inauguration right here in the nation’s capital,” Douglass said.

“It’s an event that will hopefully unite the country and move beyond partisan rancor that you’ve seen following elections in the past.”

Though starting with a small staff, Douglass said she expects to see a large number of people come forward to volunteer the help the committee prepare for the inauguration.

“We certainly do expect to get an outpouring of offers to volunteer and we’re hoping to find as many ways as possible to use all of them,” said Douglass.

The five co-chairs of the PIC, which was formed on Nov. 19, were unveiled Tuesday.

William Daley, who is on Obama’s transition team, served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton from 1997 to 2000.

Penny PritzkerPenny Sue PritzkerMichelle Obama officiated Chicago wedding: report Election Countdown: Trump plans ambitious travel schedule for midterms | Republicans blast strategy for keeping House | Poll shows Menendez race tightening | Cook Report shifts Duncan Hunter's seat after indictment Former Obama officials launch advocacy group aimed at Trump's foreign policy MORE served as finance chair on Obama’s campaign committee. John Rogers is founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Ariel Investments and serves on the boards of Aon Corporation, Exelon Corporation and McDonald’s Corporation.

Julianna Smoot served as national finance director on Obama’s presidential campaign. She previously worked for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), and Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).

The lone Republican on the committee, Patrick Ryan, oversaw Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics and is chairman of the board of trustees of Northwestern University. He is also an owner/director of the Chicago Bears.

“It is a distinct honor to chair the committee that will organize the celebration of next year’s historic inauguration of Barack Obama and Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Trump, Biden in dead heat in hypothetical 2020 matchup among Texas voters Biden calls for reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act MORE,” said the committee in a joint statement. 

“We are committed to ensuring that these activities are organized in a way that reflects the American people's common values, shared aspirations and commitment to addressing our challenges as one, united nation.”