Inaugural Investments

The big spenders behind President Bush’s inauguration festivities have taken a major PR hit in recent days. We thought it only fair to present their side of the debate.

Take Mercer Reynolds, co-chair of the Presidential Inaugural Committee and President Bush’s so-called “fundraiser-in-chief.” Mercer can’t understand all the griping about special interest cash being showered on the Bush administration. “It’s such a broad-based group of corporations that are giving,” Reynolds explains, “I just don’t think anyone could tie in giving to the inaugural with access to the presidency.” So really, more corporate money really just means higher ethical standards.

Ed Lewis, a spokesman for Ford Motor Co., takes a different stance. Ford donated $250,000 for the inauguration, and Ed plainly admits the automaker has “a number of interests in Congress and the Bush administration.” Still, he can’t help but laugh at the idea that the money is paying for access to the president — as if he needed it! “We get our phone calls returned,” Lewis gloats. “That’s not a big issue for us.”

Then there’s D.C. lobbyist David Girard-diCarlo, who personally threw down $50,000 on top of the $200,000 his firm contributed. Speaking to the New York Times, Girard-diCarlo admitted the sad truth: “If you are playing in a sport, you’ve got to play in the sport.” And Girard-diCarlo clearly knows how to play the sport — sometimes he even plays in his pajamas. After the Homeland Security Dept. was created in 2002, Girard-diCarlo invited Secretary Tom Ridge over for two slumber parties at his Arizona estate, then hired Ridge’s aides to lobby the department on behalf of his clients.