President Obama has decided to accept unlimited donations from corporations in order to finance his inaugural festivities next month, his inaugural committee announced on Friday. While taxpayers always pick up the tab for the costs associated with the actual inaugural ceremony (which will be private this year), but the extracurricular parties, balls, and events come from the good graces of enthusiastic donors.
This being the second time around for the president, and what with our stagnant economy, I’d wager that the cash probably hasn’t been flowing quite so readily — which is of course a totally justifiable reason for reversing course on something you made a huge, oh-so-magnanimous stink about the first time around. Reports the NYT:
President Obama will accept unlimited donations from corporations — but no money from lobbyists or political action committees — to finance his 2013 inaugural festivities, a spokeswoman for his inaugural committee said on Friday.
The move is a break from Mr. Obama’s policy in 2009, when he refused corporate donations for activities related to the inauguration. The committee also said the events surrounding Mr. Obama’s inauguration will be smaller in scope than four years ago; the White House is mindful of the fragile state of the economy and does not want a show of opulence. …
The issue of whether the Presidential Inaugural Committee, known as the P.I.C., would accept corporate money to pay for the parade, balls and other inaugural festivities has been a thorny one for Mr. Obama. Companies that donate money may have business before the White House, raising questions of conflict of interest.
Le sigh. What is it about reelection that makes all of the things that used to matter, just not matter anymore? And, ‘the White House is being mindful of displays of opulence,’ really? They don’t seem to have any qualms with Christmas trees galore, but they’re suddenly fastidious when it comes to events financed by private donations? Hmmm.
The inaugural committee reassures us that no money from lobbyists nor PACs will be allowed, that the names of donors will be posted for the sake of “transparency,” and that corporations that took TARP money will not be able to donate unless they’ve already paid that money back. Call me cynical, but I’m just not entirely convinced that the usual Beltway reindeer games won’t ensue.