This Inaugural Ball is brought to you by ...
Regular folks long ago were, in effect, shut out of major events - or at least from the good seats - like the Super Bowl and tennis' U.S. Open. Corporations, sponsor, and pretty much own those events.
The government is supposed to be an entirely different matter, equally accessible to all.
It is unfortunate that President Obama has abandoned the precedent he set in 2009, when his inauguration committee rejected all corporate donations. The 2013 committee has announced that it will accept uncapped corporate and individual donations, excluding from lobbyists and political action committees.
Taxpayers fund official events but the committee must raise funds to cover balls, the inaugural parade and a host of other events.
Friday, the committee advised potential corporate/institutional and individual donors of some contribution levels: Washington ($1 million from institutions and $250,000 from individuals); Adams ($500,000 from institutions and $150,000 from individuals); Jefferson ($250,000 from institutions and $75,000 from individuals); and Madison ($100,000 from institutions and $10,000 from individuals).
There will be no sponsorship deals, so no corporate name will be attached to any specific events. But those events will be full of people who gained access through minimum six-figure contributions from themselves or their corporations. Each contribution level includes varying levels of access to major inaugural events.
Mr. Obama quite rightly has lamented the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision, which opened the door to undue corporate influence through unlimited corporate donations to political campaigns. The president should see the irony in welcoming corporate contributions to inaugural events on Jan. 21, the anniversary of the Citizens United decision, because the potential for undue corporate influence fueled by money is not limited to campaigns.
Inaugurations should be public events. Congress should set a budget for those events and inaugural committees then can shape the festivities to that budget.