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December 07, 2012

Consumer group blasts Obama for taking corporate $ for inauguration

President Obama's decision to accept corporate financing for his inauguration next month is prompting a scolding from Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group that last week called on him to refuse such money -- as he did in 2009.

"The American people have a right to expect something other than an inauguration brought to them by Bank of America," said Public Citizen president Robert Weissman, who called the decision "deeply disappointing."

He noted that the festivities will fall on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, which held that corporations can spend unlimited amounts on elections. Obama supports a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision, but Weissman said the decision to open the inauguration to the cash "undermines the case for corporate-free elections."

He said the Presidential Inaugural Committee has said it will not accept funds from lobbyists, foreign corporations, TARP recipients that have not repaid government loans or others that don't pass its vetting process.

"But every corporation's donations create a conflict of interest, because they all have business before the government in one way or the other," Weisman said. "The problem with donations from lobbyists is that they expect something in return for their contribution. The situation is exactly the same with corporate contributors, virtually all of whom employ lobbyists."

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