Sunday, December 28, 2008

A-list pays for Obama's red-carpet arrival

STARS of Hollywood, including Halle Berry and Steven Spielberg, and bosses of hi-tech giants like Google and Microsoft, are digging deep to help fund Barack Obama's inauguration party next month.

Mr Obama, in keeping with his vow to purge US politics of influence peddling, has ordered that the names of all inauguration donors, withheld by previous presidents, be published on the internet.

Lists of those forking out for the inauguration on January 20 show Spielberg and his wife, Kate, each donated the maximum $US50,000.

Actress Halle Berry, listed as working for her Bumper Inc production company, also gave $US50,000, as did comedian and actor Jamie Foxx. A 'Sharon Stone of California' is also on the list with a similar donation.

Mr Obama's inauguration fund is also attracting big contributions from titans of the US internet and software industry.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who served on Mr Obama's campaign economic advisory board, gave $US25,000, as did Google co-founder Larry Page and Google vice-president Marissa Mayer.

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, gave $US50,000, as did his wife, Connie. Former basketball star and businessman Earvin "Magic" Johnson gave $US25,000 and five members of the family of billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros racked up $US250,000 between them.

The fund is required to pay for the long list of balls and other commemorative events on and around inauguration day. Big money donors can expect special ticket privileges and VIP access to events.

The list of fundraisers has been detailed on the Presidential Inaugural Committee website at

Mr Obama's committee, in contrast with previous inaugural committees, has already said it will not accept contributions from corporations, political action committees, labour unions, registered lobbyists or non-US citizens.


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