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The Boston Globe


Mayor-elect Walsh seeks hefty inaugural donations

The maximum donation being sought for Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh’s inauguration is $25,000, half of what organizers had initially considered requesting, according to plans released Friday by the Walsh transition team.

A top contribution will confer platinum status upon the donor, which will translate into tickets to inaugural events, as well as a private event. While the campaign will not seek more than $25,000 from a giver, “donors are able to contribute more if they desire,” the Walsh transition team said in the announcement.

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The Globe reported last month that officials working on behalf of Walsh’s inaugural team had approached several potential sponsors, providing them with fund-raising information that suggested the top donation could be as much as $50,000. Officials close to Walsh insisted at the time that the document was a draft.

Walsh advisers say that they have yet to figure out how much the inaugural events — which will stretch over at least three days, including the Jan. 6 swearing in — will cost, but said fund-raising levels were based on an analysis of inaugural events held for other elected officials.

“Even if you do a modest event, you’re still talking about some serious money,” said Michael Goldman, a senior adviser to Walsh. “The levels that we chose are based on what we think we might need to pull this off.”

Walsh will not accept contributions from political action committees known as Super PACs or from labor unions, groups that funneled millions of dollars into the mayoral race. Super PACs cannot contribute directly to a candidate’s campaign account but can, independently, spend unlimited amounts on a candidate’s behalf.

Soliciting donations from individuals and businesses to pay for inaugural events has become common practice at the state and municipal level.

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Leading up to Governor Deval Patrick’s first inauguration in 2007, donations of up to $50,000 were sought to finance the $1 million, five-day celebration.

After Mayor Thomas M. Menino was elected to a fourth term in 2005, his inaugural committee raised more than $500,000 from 65 donors to pay for festivities that culminated in a Boston Public Library gala. City officials say figures from Menino’s first inauguration, in 1993, are no longer available.

Government watchdogs have said it is preferable that money not come from individuals or companies doing business with the city. In an interview last month, Pamela Wilmot — executive director of Common Cause, a nonpartisan advocacy organization — said transparency is paramount.

In a statement Friday, Walsh’s transition team promised to disclose all donors, listing them on a website created for the inauguration

“Everything will be transparent,” Goldman said. “There’s nothing that’s going to come in where people can say: We don’t know where the money came from.”

Donations are expected to be used toward Walsh’s official swearing-in ceremony, as well as the inaugural gala and related neighborhood and community service events.

Jim O’Sullivan of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Wesley Lowery can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery.

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