Bush to Take Office with $20 Million Bang

By Sandra G. Boodman
Washington Post Staff Writer

The inauguration of president-elect George Bush on Jan. 20 will be the biggest and most expensive in history and will accept corporate cash contributions of no less than $100,000, inaugural officials said yesterday.

Although Congress has allocated about $5 million for various inaugural activities, most of the money must be raised by The Presidential Inaugural Committee, which is appointed shortly after the election by the incoming president. At a news conference co-chairman Bobby Holt, a Texas rancher and financier, said that the committee expects to raise between $20 million and $25 million in private funds. President Reagan"s inaugural committee raised-and spent about $20 million in 1985.

Although part of the cost will be financed by sales of tickets to inaugural balls, and official souvenirs, much of the four-day celebration will be underwritten by corporations. Non-cash gifts of computers, Fax machines and office equipment worth less $100.000 will be accepted, officials said.

Inaugural spokesman Ed Cassidy said that planners do not consider the $100,000 corporate minimum to be inconsistent with the desire of the new administration to, in the words of inaugural co-chairwoman Penne Percy Korth, include "as many Americans as possible ... from all walks of life." "Absolutely not," said Cassidy. "It's that corporate generosity that helps finance the events that President-elect and Mrs. Bush feel strongly should be open to as many people as possible."

But Ann McBride, senior vice president of Common Cause, a citizens lobby, disagreed. "This is no way to start a new admin- istration," she said. "This clearly ,provides a way for corporations to give large sums of money to curry favor." Finance chairman Walter Ganzi said that the $100,000 minimum is designed to simplify matters both for potential donors and the committee. "In 1985 they had several denominations [of corporate sponsorship] and it got very confusing near the end. We felt it would be easier and less confusing'" to set a flat $100,000 minimum, he said.

So far, Ganzi said, more than $10 million has been raised from corporations. "The response has been very gratifying," he said.

Next month's celebration will emphasize "peace, prosperity and independence," a theme that underscores the 200th anniversary of the American presidency, Korth said.

"We are taking very seriously the signal the inauguration sends to our friends around the world," said Korth. "The entire program will reflect the values of the Bushes and the Quayles--of faith, family and freedom."

"The official festivities include five free major events, more than any in recent history", Holt said. they include a Presidential Pageant at Constitution Hall on Jan. 18 and 19 and a "White House American Welcome" on Jan. 21, from 8 to 11 a.m. The inaugural will also feature the first program tailored specifically for children, entitled "George to George--200 Years," and a "Tribute to Democracy" on Jan. 21 at Constitution Hall.

The most expensive event, a $1,500 a-plate dinner, will be held Jan. 18 the newly renovated Union Station and at the Departmental Auditorium on Constitution Avenue. Tickets to the eight inaugural balls to be held the night of Jan. 20 cost $175 per person and tickets to the Young American Ball for those under 40 at the DC. Armory are available at $30 per ticket.

The planners of this year's inaugural insist that it will at least break even,; and might make money as did Reagan's 1981 and 1985 inaugurations. "There will be no deficit," said Stephen M. Studdert, the inaugural committee's executive director. Robert Keith Gray, a Washington public relations executive who served as co-chairman of the 1981 inauguration, said that event made a profit of several million dollars. Gray said that about $1 million was donated to the Ronald Reagan Scholarship Fund. Some of the surplus from 1985 was donated to the 1989 committee as seed money, Gray said.

The cost of both those celebrations greatly exceeded Jimmy Carter's 1977 populist inauguration, which cost $3.5 million in private funds.

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