WASHINGTON - In a reversal from four years ago, President Barack Obama will accept unlimited sums of money from corporations and individuals to pay for events surrounding his inauguration, a spokeswoman said Friday.
Lobbyists, political action committees and foreign entities, however, will still be banned from underwriting the costs of the gala events, spokeswoman Addie Whisenant said. The committee also will reject donations from companies that haven't paid back loans from the 2008 federal bailout of Wall Street, as well as corporate sponsorship deals.
"Our goal is to make sure that we will meet the fundraising requirements for this civic event after the most expensive presidential campaign in history," she said in a statement. "To ensure continued transparency, all names of donors will be posted to a regularly updated website."
Obama's second term automatically begins at noon on Jan. 20 under the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. Since that's a Sunday, a private swearing-in will be held at the White House, followed the next day — the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday — by a public oath-taking and a series of scaled-back events.
For Obama's 2009 inauguration and this year's Democratic National Convention, money from corporations, political action committees and lobbyists was rejected. At the time, Obama's team promised "an inauguration that will underscore their commitment to change business as usual in Washington and ensure that as many Americans as possible, both inside and outside Washington, will be able to come together to unite the country and celebrate our common values and shared aspirations."
That plan, however, has given way — both on the sources and scope of donations. Previous presidential inaugural committees capped donations at $250,000 but Obama's 2009 events limited that sum to $50,000 from supporters.
This time, there will be no dollar limits.
Obama's second inaugural will be smaller than his first, with no concert on the National Mall. It will, however, still have the traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, as well as a National Day of Service and a round of official inaugural balls, although aides say not as many as last time.
The costs of the public swearing-in ceremony on the Capitol steps are covered by the congressional committee that oversees events on the Capitol Grounds. Security for the event is already part of the federal budget.