Correction to This Article
This article on the Presidential Inaugural Committee misspelled the last name of spokeswoman Linda Douglass.

Inaugural Gift Limits, Co-Chairs Announced

By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama will not accept inaugural contributions from corporations, political action committees or registered lobbyists, and individuals will be limited to donations of $50,000, according to his newly formed inauguration committee.

The $50,000 maximum is considerably less than the $250,000 corporate and individual contributions that President Bush allowed for his second inauguration and a move Obama's Presidential Inaugural Committee called unprecedented.

The committee also announced its five co-chairs yesterday, including William M. Daley, a former U.S. secretary of commerce and an adviser on Obama's transition team.

The limits will force the committee to take a new route to fundraising for what city and federal officials have predicted could far exceed the record 1.2 million people who attended the inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The committee wanted to "change business as usual in Washington," according to a news release.

The limits also prohibit noncitizens and registered foreign agents from giving to the inaugural. The self-imposed bans follow Obama's method of operation on the campaign trail and in his transition. Individual contributions to the transition are restricted to $5,000.

Bush raised a record $42.8 million for the 2005 inauguration, and the $250,000 donations he received were criticized by some as a way to buy influence.

Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton raised many of their inaugural dollars through ticket and memorabilia sales, and both Bushes relied heavily on large corporate and individual donations. President Jimmy Carter had a low-key, $3.5 million affair that limited ticket prices to $25 and featured mostly free events.

When hearing of Obama's restrictions, Brad Freeman, a co-chairman of Bush's 2005 committee, said: "How are they going to pay for it? A good question."

Freeman said corporations can afford to drop the kind of dollars needed for an inauguration. But he said Obama's campaign proved that if anyone has the ability to generate alternative sources, he can.

"He raised a lot of money, to say the least. There are a lot of people out there willing to pony up the money," Freeman said.

The Obama campaign raised more than $600 million, most of it through the Internet.

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