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Bank of America, unions among newly named inauguration sponsors

Corporate backers spent $283 million on lobbying

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 Updated:

Add Bank of America, Coca-Cola, FedEx and a collection of labor unions to the growing list of powerful lobbying forces underwriting the second inauguration of President Barack Obama — long a vocal critic of the influence industry and corporate political power.

The new inaugural bankrollers, the names of which the Presidential Inaugural Committee released this weekend, have together spent $124.3 million lobbying the federal government since Obama took office, a Center for Public Integrity review of federal disclosures shows.

Lobbying forces donating to Obama’s inaugural have spent nearly $283 million to influence the federal government since 2009 when including previously disclosed corporations, such as AT&T Inc., Microsoft Corp. and energy giant Southern Co.  — a figure likely to grow as the inauguration committee releases the names of more new contributors.

(Read: Corporate backers poured $160 million into lobbying since 2009.)

FedEx has spent more than $64 million on federal lobbying since 2009, while Coca-Cola has spent nearly $25 million and Bank of America more than $12.8 million, federal disclosures show.

The Forest County Potawatomi Community, a Native American tribe based in Wisconsin that operates casinos, also donated to the inaugural committee and has spent $1.5 million on lobbying during the past four years. Another inaugural donor, financial investment firm Ariel Investments, has spent $200,000.

Lobbying expenditures by newly disclosed union entities donating to the inaugural committee include:

  • American Federation of Government Employees ($4.74 million in 2009);
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ($3.5 million;)
  • Laborers International Union of North America ($3.5 million);
  • American Postal Workers Union (2.6 million);
  • United Association ($1.9 million);
  • International Association of Fire Fighters ($1.5 million);
  • United Food and Commercial Workers ($1.5 million), and;
  • the Sheet Metal Workers International Association ($150,000).

Such unions are organized as nonprofit corporations under the Internal Revenue Service code.

Obama has banned individual lobbyists from donating to his inaugural celebration, but he’s instituted no such prohibition for the corporations or labor unions that together employ several hundred lobbyists to influence government policy and legislation.

This policy is a marked departure from the practices of Obama’s 2009 inaugural committee, which banned corporate contributions altogether and limited individual donations to $50,000.

The inaugural committee has not released how much money any of its donors have actually contributed, and by law, it won’t be compelled to disclose such information to the Federal Election Commission until 90 days after Monday’s inauguration.