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Bank of America, Unions Among Newly Named Inauguration Sponsors

Dave Levinthal
The Center for Public Integrity / News Investigation
Published: Sunday 20 January 2013
Corporate backers spent $283 million on lobbying.
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Add Bank of America, Coca-Cola, FedEx and a collection of labor unions to the growing list of powerful lobbying forces underwriting the second inauguration of President Barack Obama — long a vocal critic of the influence industry and corporate political power.

The new inaugural bankrollers, the names of which the Presidential Inaugural Committee released this weekend, have together spent $124.3 million lobbying the federal government since Obama took office, a Center for Public Integrity review of federal disclosures shows.

Lobbying forces donating to Obama’s inaugural have spent nearly $283 million to influence the federal government since 2009 when including previously disclosed corporations, such as AT&T Inc., Microsoft Corp. and energy giant Southern Co.  — a figure likely to grow as the inauguration committee releases the names of more new contributors.

(Read: Corporate backers poured $160 million into lobbying since 2009.)

FedEx has spent more than $64 million on federal lobbying since 2009, while Coca-Cola has spent nearly $25 million and Bank of America more than $12.8 million, federal disclosures show.

The Forest County Potawatomi Community, a Native American tribe based in Wisconsin that operates casinos, also donated to the inaugural committee and has spent $1.5 million on lobbying during the past four years. Another inaugural donor, financial investment firm Ariel Investments, has spent $200,000.

Lobbying expenditures by newly disclosed union entities donating to the inaugural committee include:

  • American Federation of Government Employees ($4.74 million in 2009);
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ($3.5 million;)
  • Laborers International Union of North America ($3.5 million);
  • American Postal Workers Union (2.6 million);
  • United Association ($1.9 million);
  • International Association of Fire Fighters ($1.5 million);
  • United Food and Commercial Workers ($1.5 million), and;
  • the Sheet Metal Workers International Association ($150,000).

Such unions are organized as nonprofit corporations under the Internal Revenue Service code.

Obama has banned individual lobbyists from donating to his inaugural celebration, but he’s instituted no such prohibition for the corporations or labor unions that together employ several hundred lobbyists to influence government policy and legislation.

This policy is a marked departure from the practices of Obama’s 2009 inaugural committee, which banned corporate contributions altogether and limited individual donations to $50,000.

The inaugural committee has not released how much money any of its donors have actually contributed, and by law, it won’t be compelled to disclose such information to the Federal Election Commission until 90 days after Monday’s inauguration.

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ABOUT Dave Levinthal

Dave Levinthal joined the Center for Public Integrity in 2013 to help lead its Consider the Source project investigating the influence of money in politics. For two years prior to joining the Center, Dave reported on campaign finance and lobbying issues for Politico and co-wrote the daily Politico Influence column. He also edited from 2009 to 2011, where he led coverage that won the Online News Association’s top honors in 2011 for best topical reporting and blogging and was a finalist the same year for the Scripps Howard Foundation’s Distinguished Service to the First Amendment award. From 2003 to 2009, Dave worked for The Dallas Morning News, primarily covering Dallas City Hall also reporting on national elections and aviation security. From 2000 to 2002, he covered the New Hampshire Statehouse for The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Mass. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Dave graduated from Syracuse University with degrees in newspaper journalism and political philosophy and edited The Daily Orange. He is also a two-time winner (2007 and 2010) of Canada’s Northern Lights Award for his travel writing about the arctic.

Silly man! Don't understand a

Silly man!

Don't understand a bribe attempt when you see one?

Seems to me that an

Seems to me that an inauguration shouldn't need sponsors; all you need is a president elect (POTUS), the chief justice of SCOTUS, and a bible. That was done today, Sunday the 20th as required by the constitution, and should only cost the taxpayers a negligible amount since everyone involved is already present in the city and on gov't salaries already. Anyone who wants to party afterwards should do it on their own tab and not get heralded as a sponsor.

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