Pomp & Circumstance & InfluencePeddling

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WASHINGTON - (01/20/05) -- When President Bush is sworn in to asecond term this afternoon the celebration will look much like theother 43 Presidential inaugurations, except for one majorthing--the price tag. The three-days of parties and ballssurrounding the inauguration are projected to cost a record $70million, the vast majority of it footed by special interests. "Theyall want access and they're going to get it," said Steven Weiss, ofthe political watchdog Center for Responsive Politics. "They areall, for the most part, people who have something in front ofCongress and they're hoping to get the support of the BushAdministration by giving to the inauguration." So $250,000 will buystudent loan giant Sallie Mae tickets to all inaugural events, aswell as a dinner with the President and lunch with President Bushand Vice President Cheney. A $4,500 PAC contribution to CongressmanEd Royce will get a NAFCU director access to a day's worth ofreceptions and parties and a personal briefing from the sponsor ofthe CURIA bill. One-hundred-fifty dollars will buy tickets for theCUNA Board or NAFCU Board to one of the nine inaugural balls. And$50,000 will get CUNA's name alongside other sponsors of theinauguration. "This is going to be the most expensive inaugurationever, before this is over," Weiss, told The Credit Union Journalyesterday.

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