Obama’s Inaugural Fundraising: Groundwork for Post-Presidency

Photograph by Scott Andrews/Pool via Bloomberg

President Barack Obama waves after speaking during his inauguration at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2009.

President Barack Obama has mused about his legacy, inviting presidential historians to dinner and urging speechwriters to pen addresses with historical sweep.

Now, he’s beginning to prepare for it, starting by embracing a new sponsor: Corporate America.

The former Illinois senator who in 2008 campaigned for president pledging to curb the role of money in politics has decided to accept unlimited corporate dollars for his second inauguration. His shift from four years ago, when he banned company funding, marks an early strategic step toward building the organization that will finance his presidential library, foundation and other post-White House aspirations, advisers say.

“With a two-term president, you have the luxury of planning time,” says Skip Rutherford, who helped raise $165 million for former President Bill Clinton’s library and works as dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. “I would not be surprised if the Obama foundation would probably incorporate some time this year.”

For his second inauguration, Obama plans to raise $50 million from individuals and corporations. Financing his career after leaving office will cost orders of magnitude more: The price tag of his presidential library alone could easily exceed $500 million, according to presidential library experts.

Aides, who asked for anonymity to discuss strategy, say raising that amount of money will be impossible unless they build bridges to corporate donors — and give their exhausted, long-time political campaign supporters a break.

See the full story on Obama’s inaugural fundraising as the groundwork for his legacy plans at Bloomberg.com.

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