Liberal groups have sharply criticized President Barack Obama for allowing corporations to fund his upcoming inauguration, a reversal of policy from his prior inaugural celebration in 2009.
Politico reported that Obama's financial team decided to accept unlimited corporate donations due to fears his donors were less willing to contribute after a rash of campaign fundraising. The financial team is selling four separate packages, which provide various levels of access depending on the amount donated.
“Through two campaigns, President Obama has said all the right things about the need to get big money out of our politics – and then done a lot of the wrong things,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. "This is another example of that. Why would the President and the inaugural committee decide to take as much money as millionaires and corporations care to give, inviting the corrupting influence that inevitably goes with it?"
Obama had been a vocal opponent of super PACs, which can accept unlimited sums of money to influence federal elections. However, he raised the ire of many liberals when he embraced Priorities USA, a super PAC devoted to his re-election.
Though Edgar admits he finds "some comfort" in the fact that Obama's financial team has vowed to screen out donations that pose a conflict of interest, he believes Obama has "again missed an opportunity to put actions behind his words."
In a letter sent to Obama in late November, the group Public Citizen described accepting corporate donations as a "patently horrible idea."
"When the American people watch you take the oath of office, they should not wonder if you are also obligated to corporate donors," Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said. "There is no way for the American people to see major corporate names associated with the inauguration and not assume those corporations are paying for a lot more than the inauguration festivities."
Obama voluntarily declined corporate donations for his 2009 inaugural ceremony and capped individual contributions at $50,000.