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In November, Obama announced that his presidential inauguration committee would not accept donations from corporations, lobbyists, political action committees, or unions. The move appeared to set Obama apart from President Bush, whose official inaugurations were underwritten almost exclusively by corporations and executives.
Despite Obama’s efforts, inaugural festivities still represent a giant loophole in lobbying rules that have grown progressively stricter in recent years. Whether it’s the high-dollar fundraisers underwriting the official inaugural program, or the corporations and lobbyists throwing lavish parties to woo legislators and government officials, influence appears to come with a price tag.
This week, a plethora of official inaugural events, paid for by a relatively small number of wealthy donors to Obama’s inaugural committee, as well many private parties present opportunities for moneyed interests to curry favor with the incoming president and Congress. Special interests and lobbying firms lure lawmakers with lavish private parties during inauguration week, which are all off the books. Obama is not expected to attend these events personally, but members of Congress, and even members of his administration, who will be the primary vehicle for his change agenda, are expected to show up in droves.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Percentage increase in the annual number of polio cases in Pakistan since 2005:
A bowl of 4,000-year-old noodles was found in northwestern China; and a spokesman for the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that “this is the earliest empirical evidence of noodles ever found.”
A federal judge sentenced the journalist Barrett Brown to 63 months in prison for sharing a link to information stolen from the private-intelligence firm Stratfor by a hacker in 2011. “Good news!” Brown said in a statement. “They’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”