Boeing, billionaire Penny Pritzker among Obama's donors

Boeing

Aviation giant Boeing Co. contributed $1 million to President Barack Obama's second inauguration. (January 30, 2013)

Illinois donors to President Barack Obama’s second inauguration included aviation giant Boeing Co., which contributed $1 million, and billionaire Penny Pritzker, who was behind two gifts totaling a half million dollars, according to newly filed records.

Pritzker, who is being vetted by the White House as a candidate for commerce secretary, gave $250,000 to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and her private-investment firm, PSP Capital Partners, L.L.C., gave another $250,000. She was among the co-chairs of the 2009 Obama inauguration.

Two other donors from Obama’s home state each gave $250,000: Fred Eychaner of Chicago, who owns Newsweb Corp. and was a top money-raiser for Obama, and Michael J. Sacks of Highland Park, the CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management, L.P. Sacks is vice chairman of World Business Chicago and a top adviser to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

There was one other six-figure donor from Illinois: East Lake Management & Development Corp., a minority-owned real estate firm that kicked in $100,000.

At Boeing, a leading airplane manufacturer and defense contractor, spokesman John Dern confirmed the $1 million gift but did not elaborate about it when contacted Monday by the Tribune. None of the six-figure donors had a comment, either.

In all, Obama’s inaugural committee raised a little more than $43 million to put on the official festivities. That was $10 million less than the amount raised in 2009 for Obama’s first inauguration.

The smaller haul came despite the fact that — in a reversal from 2009 — this year’s inaugural committee accepted corporate donations, a decision that drew sharp criticism from campaign finance reform advocates.

The 2013 committee also took individual donations of more than $50,000, unlike four years ago, and did not disclose the amount given by contributors until the report was filed with the Federal Election Commission on Saturday, three months after the event.

The biggest donation over-all came from AT&T, which contributed $4.6 million in equipment and other in-kind services. Microsoft gave nearly $2.1 million in technology services. Like Boeing, Chevron contributed $1 million in cash. Other large corporate contributions came from Genentech ($750,000), Deloitte ($500,000), FedEx ($500,000), Bank of America ($300,000) and Coca-Cola ($430,000 in in-kind catering).

Other Illinois donors

The $75,000 givers from Illinois were: attorney Susan Berghoef and Twana Edwards, both of Chicago, and philanthropist Christine Shaw of Lake Forest. Shaw told the Tribune she is active in Illinois Democratic politics and was motivated to give to the inauguration “because the economy’s bad, and I felt it was better for average people” to pay the bills, not the government.

Also from Illinois, the Pratima N. Shah Family Foundation gave $65,000. Psychologist Beth Rom-Rymer of Chicago and the Globetrotters Engineering Corporation, an architecture, engineering and construction management firm, each donated $60,000.

The $50,000 givers from Illinois: Rajiv K. Fernando, CEO of Chopper Trading in Chicago; Barbara G. Manilow of Chicago; Laura M. Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs; Henry Crown and Co. of Chicago; and Mundo Red IT, L.L.C. of Chicago.

Obama friend John W. Rogers Jr. gave $25,000 and his firm, Ariel Investments, another $25,000. He, too, was an inauguration co-chair in 2009. “That was just a magical experience,” he said, “so when this inauguration came around, I was happy to help and be part of the team” of financial backers.

Among the businesses that made in-kind contributions toward the revelry was Eli’s Cheesecake Co., whose $6,000 gift was for catering, records show.

The money went toward desserts, including one massive cheesecake, that were served Jan. 22 at a post-inaugural ball, featuring Lady Gaga, for staffers who had helped with the swearing-in festivities, said Marc Schulman, Eli’s president. “We probably served 6,000 people,” he said. “It was a big crowd. It was a really nice party.”

Altogether, more than 700 people or businesses from Illinois gave, including members of Congress, records show.

The Democratic lawmakers who chipped in included U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley of Chicago ($610), Brad Schneider of Deerfield ($605) and Bill Enyart of Belleville ($605). Their spokesmen said they were given ball tickets in return.

Another donor was U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, a Democrat from Matteson, whose $800 gift yielded tickets to inaugural events, a spokeswoman said. Kelly, elected to Congress on April 9, was a candidate then.

Another Democrat, state Sen. Kwame Raoul contributed $1,000 and attended an inaugural ball. “I was just celebrating the inauguration of the president, who is one of our hometown heroes,” he said.

Reporter Matea Gold in the Tribune Washington Bureau and Los Angeles Times researcher Maloy Moore contributed to this report.

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