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$250,000 gifts boost inauguration

SUNDAY, DEC. 19, 2004

WASHINGTON – More than a dozen wealthy Bush supporters – oil executives, corporate leaders, Texas Republicans – have donated $250,000 each to help pay for the president’s second inauguration, which is shaping up as one of the most expensive.

According to a major donor list on the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s Web site, 14 companies and individuals each have given $250,000, and 10 have contributed $100,000. The list, which includes all donations made as of Thursday, also shows a contribution of $25,000 and another of $50,000.

The $250,000 donors include former Enron President Richard Kinder, Dell Computer founder Michael Dell and Texas oilman and corporate takeover specialist T. Boone Pickens.

Also on the $250,000 list are ExxonMobil Corp.; Sallie Mae Inc., a Reston-based company that annually provides billions of dollars in student loans; United Technologies Corp., a unit of which manufactures Army Black Hawk helicopters; the utility Southern Co.; and Stephens Group Inc., a Little Rock venture capital company.

“We’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm from people wanting to help make the 55th inaugural a success,” said Tracey Schmitt, spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which coordinates most inaugural activities. “People understand that the inauguration of our president is a great tradition, a tradition that transcends partisan politics.”

The inauguration is estimated to cost $30 million to $40 million, which private donations will cover. The estimate includes security costs not covered by the federal and local government. Security is expected to be tight for the first inauguration since the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


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