Chicago Sun-Times
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Obama inauguration committee donor perk package


WASHINGTON -- A fund-raising perk package for the official Obama Presidential Inauguration Committee -- for those giving $50,000 or raising $300,000 -- includes tickets to four days of parties, brunches, dinners and an inauguration night ball.

The PIC sent the perk package -- which does not have a formal guarantee for a ticket to the Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol -- to President-elect Barack Obama's best fund-raisers Wednesday, with only weeks to raise at least $40 million to bankroll Obama inauguration festivities.

An Obama National Finance Committee member I talked to -- the elite of the donor ranks -- said he was concerned with "donor fatigue" after the presidential campaign, in which Obama raised more than $750 million. Donors won't write big checks unless they get to attend some VIP parties with cachet and bragging rights.

Each individual donation is capped at $50,000 -- with two "preferred" tickets to finance events -- and bundlers will be asked to raise no more than $300,000 -- and get four "trustee" tickets to these VIP events. Corporate money is banned.

The top donor festivities begin Jan. 17 with a late-night event, followed by a Sunday brunch with a "special guest," other events and a National Finance Committee "thank you" dinner hosted by Penny Pritzker, Obama's finance chairwoman, who is on the economic transition team and is an inauguration co-chairwoman.

Monday, Jan. 19, will offer more meals and entertainment, with the special guests likely to be Obama officials and advisers. Tuesday, Inauguration Day, offers a parade-watching party and official balls.


Is it just me or does anyone else get that sense that since we are in such challenging economic times for the vast majority of the American public (especially the middle class), that some of the parties should be scaled back? It is, afterall, taxerpayer money that's being used to put all these parties on isn't it????

I'm all for celebrating and for raising funds for the DNC but wouldn't it be wiser to adopt a more balanced approach to all these festivities given that so many Americans have lost there jobs and homes?

Just askin'? Balance... anyone else for balance?



Barack Obama will leave his major campaign donors out in the cold on January 20, 2009. Those tens of thousands of donors who ponied up the maximum contribution to help Obama shatter all previous fundraising records and capture the White House will be left to fend for themselves at the inaugural ceremonies.

Barack Obama’s transition team and inaugural committee have made no plans to ensure that the thousands of supports who contributed $2,500 to $5,000 to his candidacy will have tickets to his inaugural swearing in ceremony. Instead, Obama’s most adherent financial supporters have been advised to try to get tickets to the event from their congressional representatives. That response from Obama’s inaugural committee feels like a kick in the teeth to many of his top financial backers, many of whom not only contributed the maximum amounts, but also helped to raise substantial amounts for him.

By telling his most potent financial backers that they must rely on their congressional representatives in order to secure tickets to the swearing in ceremony, Obama has turned his back on those who backed their believe in him with their wallets, their time, and their advocacy. Simple math shows that Obama has now kicked to the curb the many who helped him secure his top spot.

According to Senator Diane Feinstein, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, of which she leads, will issue approximately 240,000 tickets to the swearing in ceremony. While all members of congress will receive tickets to distribute to their constituents, the number of tickets given to members of congress is small. Congressman Brad Sherman’s (D-CA.) office says that each congressman has been issued less than 200 tickets, and his office supposedly received approximately 197 tickets. Sherman’s office, along with the majority of congressional representatives, instituted a lottery style system to distribute tickets to the swearing in ceremony. The use of this game of chance to disseminate tickets to the inauguration insures that Obama’s top contributors will not be able to secure tickets to the event.

For instance, if each congressman (there are approximately 435 members of Congress) received 200 tickets for their constituents, and each senator (there are only 100 U.S. Senators) received 200 tickets, then Congress as a whole should receive only 107,000 tickets to the swearing in ceremony for their constituents. After each congress person and senator doles out tickets to their own top financial backers, the number of tickets they actually place up for the lottery wheel dwindles. Thus, the chance that any top contributor of Obama obtaining tickets to the swearing in ceremony from their congressional representative is literally one in ten thousand.

The question remains what happens to the remaining 133,000 tickets for the swearing in ceremony. According to congressional sources, Obama’s transition team and inaugural committee were given the bulk of the tickets for the swearing in ceremony. That means that Obama is sitting on approximately 133,000 tickets to the swearing in ceremony. What is he doing with those tickets? It is becoming increasingly clear that Obama has no intent to reward those who contributed the maximum campaign contribution with a ticket to the swearing in ceremony.

Obama’s $650,000,000 campaign war chest was comprised of approximately $475,000,000 from donors who contributed the maximum campaign contribution of $2,500. According to publicly available information, only 27% of the $650,000,000 came from donors of less than $200.00. That means that at least 190,000 people contributed $2,500. Assuming only half those donors would want to or could attend the inauguration, that means that Obama could provide those 95,000 contributors with tickets to the swearing in ceremony. Obama would still have at least 38,000 tickets left over to be given to others as political favors. Yet, none of Obama’s top campaign contributors have been offered tickets to the swearing in ceremony. This is creating a massive sense of frustration and ill-will among those who will doubtlessly be looked to in order to fund Obama’s future campaign.

The question is why would Obama risk offending his most adherent supporters. No one from Obama’s camp would discuss this issue. Yet, the fallout has far reaching repercussions.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 11, 2008 3:39 PM.

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