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Slippin' and slidin' on corporate cash
The official theme song of President Barack Obama's three-day inaugural ceremony and celebration should be Little Richard's classic: "Slippin' and a slidin', peepin' and a hidin'."
A month ago, Obama himself put his Inaugural Committee on the slippery slope of ethical compromise by choosing to accept cash donations from corporations to pay for the festivities, which are estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $40 million. This decision went against his principled stand just four years ago to reject money from these special interests. Acknowledging that his ethical backflip this year looks bad, he's tried to soften the impact by declaring that (one) his lawyers would vet every corporate check to make sure it doesn't pose a conflict of interest, and (two) that every donation would be promptly posted on the Inaugural Committee's website for all to see.
But as he slid behind this pledge of transparency, he slipped on his own legalistic cleverness. Go to the website (www.2013pic.org), and sure enough you'll find a long list of names. But that's it. No indication of whether they are corporate executives, no clue as to what city or state they're from, and no revelation of how much money they've chipped in. This isn't transparency, it's trickery!
Only six corporate names appear, including AT&T, Microsoft, and Swiss-owned biotech giant, Genentech. Excuse me, but all three of these have truckloads of favors they want from the White House – they reek of conflicts of interest. Again, there's no disclosure of how much cash each one put up – but news stories have revealed that the Obamacans are asking some donors for as much as a million bucks.
Who do they think they're fooling – besides themselves? This isn't slick, it's clownishly inept. And ethically shameful.
"Benefactors," www.2013pic.org, 2013.
"CRP Unveils Obama Inaugural Donors Page," www.opensecrets.org, January 9, 2013.
"Obama 2013 Inauguration Donors," www.opensecrets.org, 2013.