Organizers for Mayor Michelle Wu’s inauguration are asking businesses and individuals for thousands of dollars to help bankroll her inauguration in January, putting her on track with previous mayors who have marked their ascension to political power with a lavish affair.
Boston Inaugural Fund 2021, responsible for raising cash for Wu’s inauguration, has been asking donors for $10,000 to $25,000, promising them different tiers for “sponsorship opportunities” for the inauguration, set for Jan. 3, according to correspondence obtained by the Globe.
Donors will be grouped into three different categories —“Visionary,” “Bold,” or “Champion” — depending on their contribution amount.
“Visionary” sponsors — those giving $25,000 — are promised “exclusive recognition as an event sponsor and community partner.” Donors at this level will get a chance to be on site during the inaugural event, public recognition of their support, and 10 tickets, according to a solicitation form sent to potential donors by Boston Inaugural Fund 2021 that was obtained by the Globe.
“Bold” donors — $15,000 contributors — will get five tickets; while “Champion” contributors — $10,000 donors — will get three tickets. Both contributions come with similar perks as the “Visionary” donors.
“On January 3rd, we will celebrate Mayor Michelle Wu’s inauguration,” the solicitation read. “As the first woman and person of color elected mayor of Boston, this is an important moment for the City of Boston to celebrate and honor — please join us in January 2022 in celebrating Mayor Wu. Thank you for your consideration of support as we celebrate history and this monumental occasion.”
The inaugural fund organizers confirmed that the sponsorship form was produced by the Inaugural Fund and sent “to individuals/entities who have expressed interest in sponsoring the inauguration or learning more about sponsorship opportunities.”
In a statement, a spokesman for the fund said the mayor is looking forward to participating in the swearing in of Boston city councilors, also on Jan. 3, and celebrating the inauguration with residents across Boston.
“The fundraising limits established by the Inaugural Fund are consistent with the limits put in place by the last mayoral inauguration fund in 2013, and the names of all contributors will be made public, including through regular filings with [the Office of Campaign and Political Finance]‚” the spokesman said. “The mayor’s entire focus continues to be on making city government more inclusive and responsive to the needs of everyone in Boston, and she has hit the ground running during her first week in office.”
The spokesman did not provide a specific overall fund-raising target, but said “the goal of the Fund is to collect the resources necessary to support an inclusive, accessible inaugural celebration in January.”
Organizers said that donations finalized thus far have come from Dewey Square Group, a Boston-based public affairs and lobbying shop; film producer Sam Slater; and Bob Hildreth, a Harvard-educated multimillionaire investor and founder of Inversant, a nonprofit that helps low-income families save money for college.
Wu, who was sworn in Nov. 16, two weeks after her landslide election victory, campaigned on a progressive message, promising reforms and a new approach to governance of this city.
She held a toned-down affair at her swearing-in ceremony in City Hall council chamber. Before the event, she said in a statement that given the shortened transition and urgent challenges facing Boston, she would be getting “right to work” on Nov. 16. She also said she planned “a full inauguration of public events in January, alongside” the Boston City Council.
But her solicitation of corporate donations suggests a return to traditional fund-raising that often marks the mayoral inaugurations in the past.
In 2013, prior to former mayor Martin J. Walsh’s first inauguration, organizers for his inaugural event asked corporations and individuals for up to $50,000 to bankroll Walsh’s inaugural celebration, setting the stage for one of the city’s costliest mayoral bashes.
Walsh ultimately received $1.4 million in private donations for his inauguration and transition, with most of the contributions coming from corporations, developers, lobbyists, and others who do business with the city.
Conscious that the festivities would set a tone for his new administration, Walsh established limits. He used no tax dollars for the inauguration, and barred money from political action committees and organized labor, although unions hosted a private reception for the new mayor at an inauguration night gala.
In a 2014 interview with a Globe reporter, Walsh said that it did not pose a conflict to accept money from companies with interests before the city and that he did not “make one phone call” soliciting donations.