For a mere 50K, you get a 4-day inauguration trip

WASHINGTON (AP) - December 12, 2008 The deal does represent a change. President Bush charged $250,000, selling his supporters a much bigger menu of inaugural goodies that featured candlelight dinners.

On Friday, members of the Obama National Finance Committee were spreading the word about their package to friends and associates around the country.

"We've been waiting for this day for eight years," crowed committee member Michael Caplin, when contacted by The Associated Press about the offer he was e-mailing to friends and associates.

The five-figure deals were being peddled at the same time a congressional proposal that would have banned the resale of inaugural tickets died in the Senate.

The bill's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, was prepared to rush the bill through, but it was pulled at the last minute.

Issues and questions were raised over the legislation by Republicans and Democrats, said Howard Gantman, Feinstein's staff director on the Senate Rules Committee, which Feinstein chairs.

Asked whether members of Obama's transition team had raised any questions, Gantman replied: "We were negotiating with really a number of parties in terms of getting a bill that could be uniformly supported." Gantman said the legislation will be reintroduced next year because of ticket-scalping over the Internet at astronomical prices.

Late Friday, Obama's inaugural committee disclosed the names of 243 donors who together contributed at least $9.7 million to the committee.

They included Hollywood personalities Robert Zemeckis, Sharon Stone and Jamie Foxx, each of whom gave Obama's committee $50,000. In addition, financier George Soros and four family members gave a combined total of $250,000.

Of the donors identified, 169 contributed the maximum $50,000 each and 43 of them gave $25,000. Obama's inaugural committee provided the names, employers and amounts for anyone who gave more than $200.

The committee has said it will not accept contributions from corporations, political action committees, labor unions, current federally registered lobbyists, non-U.S. citizens or registered foreign agents.

"The 4-ticket Inaugural Package offered by the Presidential Inaugural Committee costs $50,000," Caplin wrote in his e-mail. The package includes a nightclub performance on Jan. 17 and brunch the next morning, plus nighttime VIP seating at a concert that probably will take place at the Lincoln Memorial.

The fun on Jan. 19 includes candlelight dinners around town with members of Congress and drop-ins by the Obamas.

The Inauguration Day agenda includes four tickets to one of the 10 official balls in addition to tickets for the swearing-in and parade seating.

The Bush inaugural package four years ago featured a $250,000 package of 10 VIP seats at the inaugural parade, 20 seats to candlelight dinners and two tickets to an "underwriters" luncheon featuring the president and the vice president.


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