Inaugural Galas

The last sentences of an article about South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s inaugural gala:

Former Gov. Mark Sanford chose to forego a black tie gala for both his first election and re-election in favor of a low-key barbecue at the State Fairgrounds. Haley’s event was paid for through private donations. Top sponsors included BlueCross BlueShield, Boeing, Duke Energy and SCANA.

This sort of arrangement actually looks to me a lot more like bribery than do conventional campaign finance shenanigans. If you assume a race between two perfectly sincere, utterly non-corrupt contenders it’s still natural that private firms would want to spend funds helping the candidate they prefer to win the election. You don’t need to be trying to influence anyone for it to be rational to spend the money. Paying for Haley’s party is different. BlueCross BlueShield, Boeing, Duke Energy, and SCANA are really just providing a private benefit—a fun party—to Haley, her family, and her close political allies.