The inaugural celebrations of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in January are likely to be fueled by millions of businesses and other stakeholders, in addition to the individual contributions of wealthy supporters.
Please do not take money from lobbyists or the oil and gas industry.
The Donations page launched this week includes a disclaimer stating that the Inauguration Committee “will not accept donations from fossil fuel companies (i.e., companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution or sale of oil, gas or coal), their executives or PACs organized by them.
The Committee also prohibits contributions from “lobbyists registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act” or from “foreign agents registered under the Foreign Agent Registration Act”.
An official on the Presidential Inauguration Committee who was involved in the planning told Washington Newsday that the maximum limit for individual donations is $500,000, while the maximum limit for corporations is $1 million. Any amounts in excess of this limit will be refunded.
While the restrictions still leave room for deep-pocketed units and individuals who can signal support for the administration of the new Democratic president, they represent a reversal of the situation four years ago, when President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee did not set any restrictions on donations, except for the exclusion of foreign representatives.
Virtual volunteering led the Trump team to a record $107 million, which it used to fund lavish parties and gatherings for days – more than double the previous record of $53.3 million set by President Barack Obama and Biden before the 2009 inauguration. Current law does not impose any restrictions on the amount of donations.
As Vice President Obama’s, Biden supported an unprecedented cap on the first fundraising in 2008 – a move touted as an opportunity to “underscore their commitment to change business as usual in Washington and ensure that as many Americans as possible, both inside and outside Washington, can come together to unite the country and celebrate our shared values and aspirations.
Individual donation limits were set at $50,000, and the Obama opening team did not accept donations from corporations, political action committees, registered lobbyists, non-US citizens or registered foreign agents. Obama’s team raised $43.7 million for the second inauguration in 2013, as records show, but relaxed the donation restrictions it had imposed before Obama’s first term.
The official at Biden’s inauguration refused to set a target for Washington Newsday for fundraising that year.
The inauguration planning team not only received large donations from corporations and individuals, but also set up a merchandise store where a portion of the proceeds from items such as a pair of stemless wine glasses ($50), a wooden coaster set ($95), or a shot glass ($10) – all bearing the Biden Harris inauguration logo – could help cover the cost of Biden’s inauguration.
The Inauguration and Transition Team have indicated that the celebrations surrounding the January 20 celebration will be scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This year’s inauguration will be different in the midst of the pandemic, but we will honor American inauguration traditions and engage Americans across the country while ensuring the health and safety of all,” said Tony Allen, the president of Delaware State University who was selected to chair the inauguration committee, in a statement.
The committee, which is funded entirely by millions of dollars in donations, is organizing a week of celebrations, including lavish balls, star-studded concerts and extravagant lunches and receptions.
It is separate from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, a group of House and Senate leaders who oversee the formal swearing in at the U.S. Capitol. However, it is expected that the groups will work more closely together this year to ensure that coronavirus security measures are considered.
“We have had initial planning discussions with the [Joint Congressional Committee for Opening Ceremonies] and look forward to working with them to plan secure opening ceremonies,” the official told Washington Newsday.
In addition to Allen, the inauguration executive team includes Maju Varghese, who was a senior adviser in the Biden Harris campaign and an adviser to Obama in the White House; Erin Wilson, who worked in the Biden Harris campaign and other Democratic campaigns; and Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela, who was described as “one of Joe Biden’s first elected supporters.