Inaugural Fundraising - Eye on Big Donors

Washington Matters

Inaugural Fundraising - Eye on Big Donors

The inaugural festivities for Barack Obama will crash all records for attendence. It will also crash records for money raised from individuals and from companies with business before the government. Unlike primary and general election campaign fundraising, the donation limits to cover many inaugural activities, including the balls, other parties and some ceremonies and concerts, are FAR higher (10 times what was allowed by law in the campaign), and the people making them are mostly very well to do in business, entertainment, politics and international affairs. Is it all generosity and good will?  

Small donation limits for the events that Obama and his entourage will attend wouldn't go far enough. Big money is needed to celebrate in a big way. That's why Obama put a limit on donations to the Inaugural Committee of $50,000 per individual and $300,000 for bundled or collected contributions.

Sponsored Content

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political donations, has reviewed $45 million in contributions to date and broke it down into industry sectors represented and largest overall donors by name.

It's worth a close inspection. Yes, there are household names like Steven Speilberg, Halle Barry and Tom Hanks, but also scores of lesser-known top-level donors from representatives of major industries, like Exxon Mobil, Levi Strauss, Cox Enterprises and the Cherokee Nation, which has large gaming interests.


The largest industry sector represented is financial services/securities/investment, an industry bracing for federal regulation. There are also big donations from telecom, health care, insurance and real estate, industries that have much to anticipate in the next few years.

It should be noted that the inaugural committee, under Obama's direction, is not accepting donations from political action committees, federally registered lobbyists or corporations. It also should be noted that the government places no legal restrictions on donations to inaugural committees. The $50,000 and $300,000 limits were self-imposed by the Obama team. Even so, the breakdown of who is giving the most is worth pondering.