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Obama Inauguration Committee Opens Door To Unlimited Corporate Donations

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's inauguration committee will accept unlimited corporate contributions to fund its January festivities, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee confirmed to The Huffington Post on Friday.

"To help cover the cost of the public events, the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee will be accepting contributions from individual and institutional donors in compliance with the laws governing contributions to an Inaugural Committee," said spokeswoman Addie Whisenant. "The PIC will not be accepting donations from lobbyists or PACs and will not be entering into any sponsorship agreements with individuals or corporations."

The decision marks a reversal of the self-imposed ban that Obama's inaugural team placed on corporate donations in 2008 -- and opens the floodgates to massive amounts of corporate cash funding official balls and other public events. It also likely reflects lessons learned with this summer's Democratic National Convention, for which Democrats initially banned corporate money but then devised a loophole through their own ban when funds came up short for the four-day event.

"Our goal is to make sure that we will meet the fundraising requirements for this civic event after the most expensive presidential campaign in history," said Whisenant. "To ensure continued transparency, all names of donors will be posted to a regularly updated website."

In 2008, Obama's inaugural team limited individual contributions to $50,000 per person and barred all corporate contributions. This year, they will impose no limits on either individual or corporate contributions. Contrary to earlier reports that federal law caps inaugural contributions at $250,000, there are no such federal limits, said another PIC spokeswoman.

The inauguration will offer no corporate sponsorship opportunities or logo placements in exchange for these donations. And lobbyists and political action committees will be banned from contributing, as they were the last time.

In addition, donations will be screened, and corporations that pose a potential conflict of interest for the White House, such as those with pending government contracts, may be barred from contributing.

Even with more corporate money, the president's second inauguration is likely to be a much more low-key affair than his first one, which brought an estimated 1.4 million people to the National Mall.

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