Archive for Sunday, January 7, 2001

Inauguration committee backed by big-dollar donors

January 7, 2001


— George W. Bush's inaugural committee reported Friday it had raised $5 million, virtually all of it in six-figure chunks from supporters of his presidential campaign.

Though Presidential Inaugural Committee officials have said they would limit donations to $100,000, they listed a $200,000 contribution from investor Carl Lindner, whose Chiquita Bananas are at the center of a trade dispute with the European Union.

Committee officials failed to immediately return a phone call.

In all, the committee listed 51 contributions on its Web site, 49 for $100,000 and one for $50,000. Committee officials said they hoped to raise between $20 million and $30 million for the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Among the $100,000 donors were Kenneth Lay and Jeff Skilling of Enron, the energy company that has been Bush's biggest financial supporter since he entered politics, according to the watchdog Center for Public Integrity.

Lay is among 15 donors who also raised at least $100,000 for Bush's presidential campaign, which brought in a record $100 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group that studies campaign finance.

The inaugural committee received $100,000 from Charles Cawley of MBNA America, the bank and credit card company that supports overhauling bankruptcy laws. MBNA America and its employees gave $237,675 to the Bush presidential campaign, more than anyone else.

Lamar Smith of Visa USA, another champion of changing bankruptcy laws, also gave $100,000.

President Clinton recently vetoed bankruptcy legislation sought by the credit card industry.

"It's all the same names," said Holly Bailey, a researcher with the Center for Responsive Politics. "These are the people who are going to get the big invites, sitting at the table talking with the next leader of the free world."


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