Politics & Government

Florida Obama donor shares in inauguration festivities

To the list of celebrities like Jamie Foxx and big-name donors such as George Soros giving the maximum to help pay for Barack Obama's inauguration, add one more name: Raul Pedraza, a Miami business owner who until this year hadn't given a cent to a politician.

After contributing what he says was "lots" to Obama's presidential campaign, Pedraza has pledged $50,000 to defray the costs of producing an inauguration expected to draw two million people to the Capitol.

For his hefty contribution, Pedraza, the president of Magno International, a Doral-based international transportation company, will gain coveted access to all official inaugural events, including the swearing-in, seating at the parade and tickets to the inaugural balls.

The access isn't as important as seeing that Obama's presidency is celebrated, "first class," Pedraza said.

"It's one of those things for the country, it's prime time and it needs to be done right," Pedraza said.

Unlike past inaugural committees, Obama's committee is not accepting contributions from corporations, political action committees, labor unions, current federal lobbyists, non-U.S. citizens or registered foreign agents. It has also capped individual contributions at $50,000, although some donors are bundling up to $300,000. (In contrast, fundraisers for President George W. Bush put a $250,000 cap on individual contributions to his inaugural committees.)

Among Obama's Florida bundlers: Democratic fundraisers Chris Korge of Miami and Mitchell Berger of Fort Lauderdale and Kirk Wagar, who served as Obama's Florida finance chairman.

It will be Korge's third inauguration. He said he's contributing to help ensure a successful event – the inaugural committee has opened the entire National Mall to the expected flood of observers.

To read the complete article, visit The Miami Herald.