Companies donate to Biden’s inauguration: It’s ‘a way to try to ingratiate yourself with an incoming president,’ expert says

Companies donate to Biden’s inauguration: It’s ‘a way to try to ingratiate yourself with an incoming president,’ expert says

As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office on Wednesday, prominent U.S. companies are making donations to support his inaugural events, even as the proceedings will be largely online and scaled back.

Alphabet’s Google

Charter Communications

and Verizon

are among the corporations contributing, according a list of donors released by Biden’s inaugural committee. The exact value of the contributions is expected to be disclosed about 90 days after the inauguration.

The committee has not accepted donations from fossil fuel companies, but it hasn’t gone as far in limiting contributions as former President Barack Obama did in his first inauguration, when he accepted no money from corporations. About 50 groups, ranging from Demand Progress to the Revolving Door Project, had asked for Biden’s inaugural committee to follow Obama’s example.

“The acceptance of up to $1 million from each corporation is of particular concern given that this year’s inauguration will be predominantly remote, and costs of the event itself will be substantially down,” the groups said in a Dec. 16 letter. “We call upon the Biden-Harris transition team to build upon their rejection of fossil fuel money and reject contributions from ALL corporate interests, including Wall Street, big tech, Pharma, military contractors, for-profit schools, and beyond.”

Related: Biden team vows to have a smaller inauguration crowd than Trump did

And see: At Biden’s inauguration, Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem and Jennifer Lopez will perform

Biden’s transition team didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Michael Beckel, research director at Issue One, said “not accepting large corporate contributions for his inaugural committee could have been a way for President-elect Biden to telegraph a commitment to upending the influence game in Washington.”

Beckel, whose watchdog group aims to reduce the influence of big money in politics, also said donors typically give to groups like inaugural committees because they want something in return.

“Making a large contribution to an inaugural committee is a way to try to ingratiate yourself with an incoming president and a way to try to curry access and influence with a new administration,” he told MarketWatch in an email. “While activities around this year’s inauguration will be dramatically reduced, many large donors are hoping for access to special VIP events in the future.”

President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee set records with its fundraising haul of $107 million, but its spending went on to draw considerable scrutiny, with the Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office filing a lawsuit alleging waste of the funds.

Now read: Did Trump drain the swamp? Watchdog gives him an F, while Biden starts with a C

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