The changes are part of a continuing erosion of Obama’s pledge to keep donors and special interests at arm’s length of his presidency. He has abandoned the policy from his first inauguration to accept donations up to only $50,000 from individuals, announcing last month that he would take unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations.
A fundraising appeal obtained by The Associated Press shows the Presidential Inaugural Committee is going far beyond Obama’s previous self-imposed limits and is looking to blow away modern American presidential inauguration fundraising records by offering donors four VIP packages named after the country’s founding fathers.
Event organizers are hoping the packages will pay for expensive events surrounding Obama’s inaugural on Jan. 21. Obama raised $53 million in private money for his first inauguration, when a record 1.8 million people packed the National Mall to see the nation’s first black president take the oath of office. The celebration has been scaled down this year, with less than half the crowd expected and a cut from 10 inauguration-night balls to two.
But the pressure is high to pay for the festivities after donors already contributed to the most expensive political race in U.S. history, a campaign that exceeded $2 billion. So far, health care executives and major Democratic Party donors — including those who’ve taken private meetings with Obama or his senior staff — are among those paying for the party.
The inaugural donation pitch for top contributors promotes a standard inaugural fundraising practice of offering packages that include tickets to balls and other events, albeit at much higher prices this time.