Inaugural fundraisers race to meet $50-million goal


WASHINGTON — With less than a week to go before President Obama is sworn in for his second term, fundraisers for the presidential inaugural committee were still working Monday to secure their goal of $50 million in private donations to finance the official festivities.

The committee was short $8 million as of last week, but the gap is closing, according to a Democratic fundraiser involved in the efforts.

On Friday, the committee added nearly 600 new donors to its public list of “benefactors” for the event, bringing the total number of contributors to 993. That includes just eight corporations that have pledged money to help put on the official parade and balls, despite Obama’s decision to reverse the ban on corporate contributions he put in place for his 2009 inauguration.

The two newest corporate donors are Southern Company Services, which owns electric utilities in four states, and United Therapeutics, a biotech company based in Silver Spring, Md. They join AT&T;, Microsoft, health insurance manager Centene Corp. and biotech company Genentech, as well as Financial Innovations, the official merchandise vendor for the inauguration, and Stream Line Circle, an entity tied to philanthropist and gay rights activist Jon Stryker.

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It is unclear how much any of the donors have contributed to the presidential inaugural committee, which is charged with paying for all the official festivities except the swearing-in itself. (A joint congressional committee, financed with more than $1.2 million in taxpayer dollars, has that responsibility.) Unlike four years ago, the committee is not disclosing the size of the contributions until it files a report with the Federal Election Commission in April.

Its goal of $50 million is similar to the $53.2 million raised in 2009, when an estimated 1.8 million descended upon the National Mall to watch the nation’s first black president take the oath of office. About half that number are expected on Jan. 21, when Obama is sworn in for his second term.

It remains to be seen how the occasion will compare to the high-octane festivities that marked the occasion four years ago.

Despite Obama’s assertion Monday that “I like a good party,” the president and first lady will be attending just two official balls this year, down from 10 in 2009.

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