Home » Politics » Big corporations like BofA, Ford, and UPS want to bankroll Biden's inauguration. But the president-elect won't say yet whether he'll take their money.
Big corporations like BofA, Ford, and UPS want to bankroll Biden's inauguration. But the president-elect won't say yet whether he'll take their money.
More than 20 big-name corporations either told Insider that they'd like to contribute money to Biden's presidential inauguration festivities, or they wouldn't rule out donating.
President-elect Joe Biden has slammed companies that use money to buy political influence but may want corporate cash to help stage a series of exclusive, inauguration-related events.
Both Barack Obama in 2013 and Donald Trump in 2017 accepted millions of dollars in corporate money for their inaugurations.
Federal law allows presidential inaugural committees to accept corporate, union, and other special interest money, although a president-elect may choose to restrict funding sources.
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From the earliest days of his campaign, President-elect Joe Biden has sniped at special interests itching to influence politics with their money.
"Our Constitution didn't begin with the phrase, 'We the Democrats,' or 'We the Republicans." And it certainly didn't begin with the phrase, 'We the Donors,'" Biden told supporters at his campaign kickoff rally on May 18, 2019.
"For too long, special interests and corporations have skewed the policy process in their favor with political contributions," states the government reform plank in Biden's campaign platform.
Biden now faces a choice.
Will he ask corporations and other special interests — many with business fortunes hinging on the Biden administration's policies and decisions — to contribute gobs of cash toward his inauguration festivities, as both presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump did before him?
Or will he reject such money and risk staging an underwhelming affair devoid of customary pomp and circumstance and already throttled by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Biden refuses to say: His presidential transition team declined to answer Insider's questions about the 2021 inauguration celebration's finances, including who could give money and how much. The president-elect is expected to formally create an inauguration committee in the coming days and staff it with dozens, if not hundreds of hires.
But more than 20 corporations that have previously contributed money to presidential inauguration committees told Insider that they hope to give again in 2021 — or they wouldn't rule giving out.
"We have supported inauguration events over many administrations on a non-partisan basis because we view it as part of our civic commitment for an important national event," said Bank of America spokesperson Bill Halldin, whose company gave $300,000 to Obama's 2013 inauguration and $1 million to Trump's 2017 inauguration, according to federal records. "We expect to provide support for ceremonies in January as appropriate, given the health crisis and other factors that may impact it."
Rachel McCleery, a spokesperson for the Ford Motor Co., which donated $250,000 to Trump's 2017 inauguration, said that "as we have in the past, Ford plans contribute to the inaugural fund."
Aerospace giant Boeing, which provided $1 million to both the 2013 and 2017 inaugural committees, is also poised to re-up.
"At this point, we haven't been contacted by an inaugural committee, but as you note, we've contributed to past inaugurals," said Boeing spokesperson Bryan Watt, whose company has been pummeled by the COVID-19 pandemic while enduring multiple investigations related to the fatal crashes of two Boeing 737-MAX aircraft.
UPS, which contributed $250,000 to the 2017 inauguration, hasn't yet formalized plans for a 2021 inauguration contribution, spokesperson Kara Ross said. But the company has "traditionally supported the presidential inaugural activities" because "inauguration of the president of the United States is an occasion of global proportion and celebrates the democratic process that America represents," Ross added.
Some reformers, however, are skeptical.
Biden should be bold, buck recent practice, and ban corporate contributions to his inaugural committee, said Rick Claypool, a research director with Public Citizen, a nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization.
"Corporations, they aren't giving to the committee out of some deep-seated sense of selfless civic duty," Claypool said.
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