Jan. 16, 2013

What Obama Can Do to Make Up for His Poor Decision to Take Corporate Money for the Inauguration

Statement by Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama’s decision to reverse policy from his first inaugural and permit corporations to fund this year’s festivities is deeply disappointing.

Corporations do not fund events like the inauguration out of a sense of civic pride. They make donations because they expect something in return. It's not a matter of quid pro quo bribery, but they do expect their calls to be returned a little faster, their proposals to be reviewed a little more kindly. It’s the kind of deep, everyday corruption of our politics that, rightfully, infuriates Americans.

The presidential inauguration is the symbolic pinnacle of American democracy. We should celebrate with pageantry, parades and parties. But for this quintessentially public and democratic event, we should celebrate corporate-free.

As he looks out over the hundreds of thousands of real people – not corporations masquerading as artificial people – who will gather on the National Mall to hear his inaugural address, we can only hope that President Obama makes amends for his poor decision about inaugural funding by calling for far-reaching campaign spending reform: full disclosure of campaign donors, public financing for public elections and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and related decisions. He can join the call to get Money Out, Voters In, coupling the urgent demand for campaign spending reform with the equally compelling need to end voter suppression efforts and guarantee voting rights for all.

Note: To view a video of Robert Weissman speaking about corporate funding of the inauguration, visit http://pubc.it/V5m6xP.