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Wall Street may be down, but it's always up for a party


Our report on the fundraising efforts of the Presidential Inaugural Committee was quoted extensively by bloggers and media outlets. David D. Kirkpatrick cited it in his piece today in The New York Times:

But inaugural planners say that staging their own exclusive show to reward top fund-raisers was necessary to pay for the even grander spectacle they are presenting to the public, given the novel fund-raising restrictions Mr. Obama imposed on the committee. Unlike any previous president-elect, he refused contributions from corporations, unions or lobbyists, and capped individual donations at $50,000 instead of allowing $250,000 or more.

That forced planners to depend far more on inaugural “bundlers” like Mr. Sacca, people who tapped rich networks of friends and associates to collect up to $300,000 each, another limit Mr. Obama set. Of the $41 million raised by the committee, more than 70 percent came from just 211 “bundlers,” according to the watchdog Public Citizen.

Politico’s Kenneth Vogel quoted Public Citizen ethics expert Craig Holman for his story about donors footing the inaugural bill:

“No doubt many donors give simply because they want to be part of history,” said Craig Holman, a campaign finance lobbyist for Public Citizen. “But donors and bundlers who represent special interests with business pending before the government and who dole out five-figure checks to the inaugural committee usually want a seat at the table with the new administration.”

Leslie Savan’s piece in The Nation also cited our analysis. Savan drew some interesting parallels between Obama and Old Hickory Andrew Johnson.

We worry, quite naturally, that Obama will become so accommodating to the powerful interests that he’ll fail to effect the enormous changes needed. For example, Obama has admirably banned corporations from picking up any of the inaugural tab, but, according to the watchdog group Public Citizen, almost 80 percent of the $35.3 million in contributions disclosed so far has come from just 211 banking, Wall Street, and other wealthy “bundlers”–they include, no doubt, many of the people whose greed brought us to this impasse in the first place.

And David Sirota on Open Left notes how Wall Street execs who were so desperate for the bailout still have plenty of money left to fund a huge party:

Yes, despite the end-of-the-world claims that convinced Congress to give Wall Street bankers 700 billion taxpayer dollars, things are nonetheless apparently so great on Wall Street that top executives have plenty of cash lying around to try to buy their way into the next administration. And, clearly, with news that congressional Democrats are simply trusting Obama to spend the TARP funds any way he sees fit, and further news that Obama may push a tax cut specificaly targeted to big banks, these executives have a motive for making these huge contributions.

Read the full Public Citizen report here that the Wall Street Journal story is based on – and make sure to have a vomit bag nearby.

Flickr photo by carlossg