Now, before we all get excited about Bentley’s belief in “total transparency”, let’s recall that the evil corrupt Don Siegelman started this practice in 1999:
Alabama, like most states, doesn’t provide tax dollars for an inauguration and requires a new governor to raise money to pay for the events. For many years, governors acknowledged the donors in their inaugural programs, but did not disclose publicly how much they gave.
That changed in 1999 when Gov. Don Siegelman announced each contribution to his $1.4 million inauguration. Gov. Bob Riley continued the practice with his $1.3 million inauguration in 2003 and his $1 million event in 2007. Their lists looked like a who’s who of Alabama corporations. [emphasis mine]
Donors are being asked to contribute between $5,000 and $100,000. In return, they get tickets to a private prayer breakfast that begins the inauguration and the ball that ends it. They also get special seating at two free, public events: the parade up Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue at 9:45 a.m pokies online game. and the swearing-in ceremony at noon in front of the Capitol.
Buried at the bottom of the AP article is this little tidbit, which may disturb me more than the spectacle of a $1.2 million party:
Bentley set up his fund raising for the inauguration and transition as a charitable organization. [emphasis mine] If there is any money left, it will be turned over to the state government and will not go to him or his campaign account, he said.
So not only do donors get access and influence, they also get a tax deduction. Something is wrong with this picture.
UPDATE: After asking a history expert (i.e., my boss), I discovered that inaugural funds have been set up as charitable organizations for years. I had forgotten that former Gov. Guy Hunt was convicted of taking $200,000 in leftover inaugural funds for personal use. According to Wikipedia, he used the money for marble showers and lawnmowers. Still, as Del points out in comments, it doesn’t seem quite fair for the corporate fat cats to get to write off their donations when us average citizens have to pay for our own holiday parties — without a tax deduction.