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Obama's Presidential Inaugural Committee Sets Up Shop

Barack Obama's Presidential Inaugural Committee begins its work today, though an official announcement of its formation is not expected until later in the week.

Key members of the finance team and press staff have arrived in Washington for the undertaking of what is widely expected to be the most highly attended presidential inauguration ever. Their task is to organize - and raise several million dollars for - all of the official inaugural balls, galas and other festivities that will mark the dawning of the Obama administration. (To put it in perspective, President Bush spent around $40 million on his inaugural events in 2005, much of which was raised from corporations and lobbyists.)

Given the severity of the current economic disaster, it's unclear how lavish Obama's historic inaugural celebration will be and from what sources the funding will come. Obama has sworn off raising money from lobbyists for his transition, just as he did during his campaign, so it's unlikely he'll do a 180 and allow them to bankroll his inauguration.

Among those playing key behind-the-scenes roles in inaugural planning will be regional finance directors from the Obama presidential campaign as well as big names such as Penny Pritzker, a close Obama confidant who served as chair of his record-breaking national finance operation, and Chicagoan Bill Daley, the former Commerce secretary.

As Lynn Sweet reports on her blog at the Chicago Sun-Times, Daley will serve as one of the committee's co-chairs, along with John Rogers, a close friend of President-elect Obama. (Rogers' ex-wife, Desirée Rogers, will become the first ever African American White House social secretary.)

The Presidential Inaugural Committee press team will include, among others, Josh Earnest, who the Sleuth is told will be communications director. Earnest, after working on the short-lived presidential campaign of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack's, went to the Obama campaign's press shop.

And Politico's Mike Allen is reporting that former newswoman Linda Douglass, who served as Obama's traveling press secretary during the campaign, will be a spokeswoman for the inaugural committee.

This week may not be the best of weeks to unveil the Presidential Inaugural Committee given the meltdown of last week, the Thanksgiving holiday and today's big announcement on Obama's economic team, which the president-elect hopes will help calm the nerves of anxious and scared Americans who have visions of bread lines dancing in their heads. But as they say, there's no time like the present.

Note to readers: To read more on all things inaugural, check out the Post's Inauguration Watch blog.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  November 24, 2008; 9:40 AM ET
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Next: Obama's Inaugural Committee Plots the Celebration


I think with all the bad news overseas and in the financial world the country needs a celebration and an Obama inauguration is as good a one as any.

Let's not skimp on this or make the Obama's feel it should be low key. This inuaguration will hopefully recharge the batteries of the American public and attract a new young creative group of people into government and volunteer service.

If it does that it will be more than worth whatever it costs.

Posted by: peterdc | November 24, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with Peterdc. Skimp, skimp, skimp. The CEO's of the Big 3 showed that now is not the time for throwing cash into the wind. It's a perfect time for Obama to set an example for the kind of financial and lifestyle sacrifices we'll all be making in the years to come. It can still be tasteful and celebratory, but it doesn't need to be lavish. Haven't we had enough of arrogant and extravagant yahoos these last 8 years?

Posted by: Rivery | November 24, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm gettinhg e-mails asking me to contribute to the transition. But as excited as I am about an Obama presidency, no way am I going to fund inaugural events I have no chance of being invited to!

Posted by: dottieb | November 24, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Rivery. At this difficult time, why would a fancy inauguration affair help the common struggling person?

We've moved beyond the days of the early 1960's, with all the attention on the fashion and style of the President and the First Lady. Haven't we? If we haven't, and we truly are that shallow, then we are in BIG trouble.

Note to MAA. Consider the following part of a sentence listed above: "Obama has sworn off raising money from lobbyists for his transition as he did during his campaign...." The late Mr. Kilpatrick would scold you for that one. Don't be so stingy with commas and your meaning will be clearer.

Posted by: MikeK3 | November 24, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I know some local groups are trying to have a People's Inaugural celebration- or more than one at different locations. We will celebrate but not at $10,000, $1000 or even $100 a ticket.

Posted by: silverspring25 | November 24, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

A lawn party on the Mall in January would do it for me. It is a farce in a country with a jail economy, ascending destitution and a change mantra. We won't "feel better" until the vision matches the actual needs.

Posted by: StephenRose | November 25, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

While I believe in continuing the Obama campaign's commitment to change, I also think that it's important to commemorate the inauguration of President-Elect Obama in a suitable fashion. The President of the United States, no matter who he/she might be, is a world leader and should be honored as such. Given that President-Elect Obama is the first African-American to hold the office of the President, I would be appalled to see us, as a nation, compromise the nature of his inaugural events under the guise of change. Do I think we need to spend 40 million dollars -- not necessarily. But I do think that something well beyond a lawn party on the Mall is in order.

To Dottieb & MikeK3: no need to wait for an invitation. There is a public viewing area for the inauguration itself - and anyone could have requested free tickets from their congressman and senators for the ticketed area. As for the balls -- while pricey, most are open to the public, should you wish (and have the financial means, to be sure!) to purchase a ticket. However, let's not kid ourselves - there is a need to start and establish this presidency in the right fashion. And I think appropriate inauguration festivities are a part of that process.

By the way, I hope you realize that President-Elect Obama has requested pizza - specifically Italian Fiesta Pizza, a South-side Chicago favorite - to be served at the inauguration!

Posted by: camilla317 | November 25, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

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