Obama hasn't reined in Big Money
Relaxed inauguration rules reflect how he has largely given up the fight for what was once a high priority.
WASHINGTON — Even before Barack Obama was sworn in as president the first time, he touted his efforts to "change business as usual in Washington" by setting strict rules for his inauguration: No corporate donations were allowed; individuals could give only $50,000.
This time, Obama's inaugural committee is seeking million-dollar contributions from corporations and offering perks in return, such as tickets to the official ball. The six companiesthat have given so far include AT&T, Microsoft and Financial Innovations, a marketing company that received $15.7 million to produce merchandise for Obama's reelection campaign and is the official vendor for the inauguration. The committee has put no limit on how much individuals can give.
The relaxed rules reflect how Obama has largely dropped his efforts to curb the role of money in politics, a cause he once vowed to make central to his presidency.
Advisors say the White House does not plan to take up campaign finance reform any time soon, even following an election that saw more than $1billion spent by outside groups, much of it financed with seven-figure donations from billionaires.