Donors will bankroll Mayor Hodges' free inaugural bash
- Blog Post by: Eric Roper
- January 9, 2014 - 1:47 PM
Unlike two of her predecessors, Mayor Betsy Hodges won't be charging guests to attend her first-term inaugural bash this Saturday.
Instead, donors are picking up the tab for the "One Minneapolis" inaugural celebration. They can give in unlimited amounts to a special political committee set up for the occasion.
Just who those donors are remains unknown. A spokesman for Hodges' transition, Aaron Wells, said they will release the full list of donors after the event. The IRS will eventually require disclosure this spring.
Those interested could also keep an eye on a side door of the Thorp Building at 5:30 p.m., where donors and other VIPs will gather for an exclusive reception preceding the official event (which starts at 7 p.m.).
Each council member has been given four tickets to attend that "Thank You Reception." It will feature valet parking, music, an open bar and hors d'oeuvres, according to a letter the council received from Council Member John Quincy.
While it's not uncommon for donors to bankroll inaugural celebrations -- St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman solicited recently for his inaugural -- past Minneapolis mayors have charged guests to cover most costs for their first-term kickoff.
In 2002, new mayor R.T. Rybak charged $125 a plate for dinner or $25 for dessert and coffee for his ball at the Minneapolis Convention Center. A transition spokeswoman said at the time that they hoped the ticket sales would cover the event cost.
In 1994, new mayor Sharon Sayles Belton charged $25 for her dinner and dance at the Minneapolis Hilton. "We priced it to be as affordable as possible, just to cover the dinner expenses," event chairwoman Marion Jones Kennon said at the time.
Details on Rybak and Sayles Belton's re-election inaugurals are harder to find -- likely because they were much smaller affairs.
“We wanted it to be as inclusive as possible," Wells said of Saturday's event. "The theme of the event is One Minneapolis, and we wanted anybody who wanted to attend to have the ability to go."
More than 265 people have RSVPed to the main event on Facebook. It will feature free food, a cash bar, and performances by Chastity Brown, the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus and other local performers.
Hodges is separately raising money to pay off debt racked up during the campaign. She owed about $40,000 to vendors as of the last campaign filing.
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