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Wealthy fundraisers are paying the tab at Obama's party


An email I received today from President-elect Obama reminds me that his upcoming inauguration isn’t about him, “It’s about all of us.” As a proud American, I plan to enjoy the festivities and savor the historical moment but I’m also keeping in mind that the big celebration is being bought and paid for by Corporate America.

A new Public Citizen analysis shows that 80 percent of the $35.3 million in contributions to the Presidential Inaugural Committee have been raised by just 211 fundraisers, who collect and bundle together checks from their colleagues and associates. Many of these “bundlers” were people who raised money for Obama’s campaign, as well.

Remember that Obama made a big deal about not accepting corporate donations to his inauguration. That stand against corporate influence loses some of its luster when you consider that the inaugural committee is accepting individual contributions of up to $50,000 and bundled amounts of up to $300,000. And who can afford to write a check for $50K or has the connections to raise $300K with a few phone calls? Well, a lot of Wall Street types, for starters.

Our analysis found that the bundlers included Louis Susman, vice chairman of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking, who bundled $300,000; Mark Gilber, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers who bundled $185,000; Robert Wolf, chairman and CEO of UBS Americas who bundled $100,000; and Jennifer Scully, a vice president at Goldman Sachs who bundled $100,000.

David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division, said there’s a pretty obvious reason that these banking and investment types are eager to ingratiate themselves with the new administation:

It’s no wonder that Wall Street is pouring so much money into this inauguration. The executive branch has given bailouts worth trillions of dollars to Wall Street firms and is considering trillions more. Wall Street has a lot at sake.

To keep up with all the news concerning inaugural donations and transition related appointments, be sure to check out the Public Citizen blog Becoming44.org.

Flickr photo by Barack Obama