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Google, Microsoft among tech donors to Biden inauguration

Healthcare firms and labour unions also on list, which spurns oil, gas and coal sectors

NEW YORK • Major technology companies like Google and Microsoft, as well as telecommunications giants like Comcast and Verizon, are among the nearly 1,000 people and groups that have donated at least US$200 (S$265) to the committee organising President-elect Joe Biden’s scaled-back inauguration celebration this month.

The donor list, released last Saturday evening by the committee, was filled mostly with individual donors, including major givers to Democrats such as Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank; Mr Richard Blum, the husband of California senator Dianne Feinstein; and hedge fund mogul Donald Sussman.

The inaugural committee did not list any of the amounts that the more than 960 donors had given as at Dec 31, the end of the period covered in the voluntary disclosure.

The actual donor amounts may not be known until 90 days after the inauguration when the committee will be required under law to disclose the names and amounts of all donations over US$200.

There are no legal limitations on how much a donor can give to an inaugural committee, but Mr Biden’s committee voluntarily limited contributions by individuals to US$500,000 and by corporations to US$1 million.

Many of the major corporations that traditionally make large contributions to inauguration events are missing. Some have explained that they are not going to donate, given that the event will largely be virtual because of the pandemic.

Others have said they are focusing their donations on helping people affected by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.

But the tech and telecoms industries, a major source of cash for Mr Biden’s campaign and the groups supporting it, are well represented on the list, with donations also coming from California-based semiconductor and software firm Qualcomm and cable company Charter Communications.

Google was included on the list because it provided online security protections without charge to the inaugural committee, said the tech giant’s spokesman Jose Castaneda.

Other corporate donations came from the Enterprise Holdings political action committee, which is associated with the company that owns the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.

Healthcare companies also are prominent on the list, including Anthem, the health insurance giant, MedPoint Management, which provides management services to physicians groups, and Masimo Corp, a maker of electronic patient monitoring devices.

Aerospace and military contracting giant Boeing is also listed as a donor.

The Biden team prohibited donations from the oil, gas and coal industries and registered lobbyists.

Labour unions including the American Federation of Teachers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers union made contributions as well.

There was also a sprinkling of celebrities on the list, including singer Barbra Streisand.

The fundraising effort is likely to pale in comparison to the record US$107 million raised four years ago by President Donald Trump for his inauguration, with donations of as much as US$5 million from major supporters like casino executive Sheldon Adelson.

Mr Biden has urged his supporters not to travel to Washington for the inauguration on Jan 20, because outside of the swearing-in ceremony, there will be few large-scale in-person events.

In his last message before Twitter banned him, Mr Trump said that he would not be attending.

Vice-President Mike Pence will break with the President and attend, however, two sources familiar with his plans said.

NYTIMES, BLOOMBERG

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