The January 20th Inauguration of the President and Vice President now comes with an itemized receipt. As the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) Web page explains, insuring transparency in public reporting of donors is an Obama administration priority, and is evidenced in a full list on the same page of any individual contributor of over $200 to the maximum of $50,000 to the 2009 PIC. This specific referral to contributing individuals is made because of specifications given that, unlike previous inaugural committees, only individual contributions are accepted. Not only are amounts larger than $50,000 not accepted, neither are funds from "corporations, political action committees, labor unions, current federally-registered lobbyists, non-U.S. citizens and registered foreign agents." The list is equipped with a "Donate Now" button and a search box. The PIC page is consistant with Obama's promises, but less so are the headlines stating donors of corporation-class status Google and and Microsoft. In scanning the list, this author found six employees of Google and six at Microsoft, donating cash totals of $150,000 and $150,500, respectively. A problematic development, but nevertheless unsurprising.
Such transparency gives journalists ample resources to clout celebrities and businessmen who are outed on the list. Some writers are rankled by maximum donations from Jeffrey Katzenberg or Halle Berry and over three hundred others, that go not to charities, as a Minot Daily News editorial prescribes, but towards elitist balls and parties that only the rich and famous can afford to attend. Such festivities, the writer claims, send the wrong message in "these troublesome economic times." An alternative standpoint would be that any spending is good spending in this deflation-encouraging climate: it is one being extolled from government and marketing avenues alike. Attention, editorial writers: Washington, D.C. decorators, caterers and cover bands could use a bailout, too.