Report: Obama Inaugural Donors Failing to Document Contributions

Wednesday, 25 Sep 2013 04:19 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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More than half of the contributions from major corporations and special interest groups that chipped in toward President Barack Obama's $43 million second inauguration
have not yet been disclosed, a liberal watchdog group's report shows.

The companies, including heavy-hitters such as Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Visa, contributed millions of dollars, a new report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says.

Many of the organizations that donated money also lobby on Capitol Hill and are required by federal law to disclose their political contributions, including those made to the Presidential Inauguration Committee. CREW's analysis found that 42 of the 62 contributions to the committee from organizations registered to lobby were not included in contribution disclosure filing, resulting in $8 million in undisclosed contributions.

According to federal law, lobbying groups must disclose any of their contributions of $200 or more, including those to presidential inaugural committees.

CREW found that Microsoft did not disclose four contributions, totalling $2.07 million, which includes $574,285 in contributions for tech services and equipment.

In addition, AT&T disclosed a $3 million contribution, but only $171,313 out of the $1.6 million it provided in services and equipment.

TracFone Wireless, Chevron, and Aflac also did not disclose their contributions, the CREW report said. In addition, several unions, such as the National Education Association, the International Association of Firefighters, United Food and Commercial Workers, and the American Postal Workers Union and trade associations including the American Hospital Association, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and the Community Financial Services Association did not file. Others not disclosing contributions included law firms with lobbyists such as Capitol Counsel, Greenberg Traurig, and others.

"What it says is that companies are not careful about reporting the contribution as the law requires," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan told Politico

"We can’t know if it’s deliberate — because these people all have highly paid counsel and lobbying affairs staff — or if it’s just carelessness. But it doesn’t look good."

Those companies and groups that violate the disclosure requirements can potentially face criminal or civil penalties.

Obama's inaugural committee rules changed between his first and second inauguration. The first time around, the committee refused corporate contributions, but after the 2012 election, the committee allowed unlimited corporate and individual donations.

Donations from registered lobbyists and PACs were refused, but the ban didn't apply to corporations that are registered to lobby. Seven major corporations — many of which spend millions on lobbying — were among the donors.

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