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Eight corporations donate to Obama's inaugural so far

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After lifting the lid on donations to his second inauguration and agreeing to accept corporate contributions, President Barack Obama only has eight corporate donors so far, according to an updated donor list posted on the inaugural committee's website over the weekend. 

The two new corporate donors on the list: A subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation's biggest electric utilities and a major lobbying powerhouse, and United Therapeutics, a $1.5 billion Maryland pharamaceutical company seeking Federal Drug Administration approval for a drug treating a lung disorder.

The Atlanta-based Southern Company contributed $100,000 to the inaugural effort, spokesman Tim Leljedal told Sunlight Monday. Unlike in 2009, the inaugural committee is not disclosing the exact amount of each contribution on its website but only revealing that each donor has given at least $200. The committee has offered donor packages, including tickets to VIP events and concerts, for up to $1 million but the New York Times reported Friday that the committee is having trouble reaching its $50 million fundraising goal.

Southern Company may be making amends for its support of Republican candidates, although Leljedal said the company has given similar contributions to past presidential inaugurations. The company's PAC and its employees and their family members gave three-fourths of their contributions to Republican candidates and parties in the recent congressional elections although its PAC did not choose sides between Romney and Obama. The company also has the 18th-largest federal lobbying budget of any organization in D.C. -- at $10.5 million this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics

United Therapeutics, the maker of an injectable drug to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, is continuing to seek approval of an oral version. The company faced a setback in October when the FDA did not approve the new drug. Its CEO vowed at the time to continue seeking approval "within the next four years."

The company does not have a political action committee but emerged as a surprising major donor to the Democratic National Convention in September, when it gave $600,000 to the effort, the fifth-biggest donor behind the likes of Bank of America and AT&T. 

A spokesman for United Therapeutics said the company had no comment. 

The other six corporate donors are:

  • Microsoft
  • AT&T
  • Centene Corp., a company that manages Medicaid for states.
  • Financial Innovations, Inc., a vendor that ran the Obama campaign's online store.
  • Stream Line Circle LLC, associated with gay rights activist Jon Stryker.
  • Genentech, a large biotech company that lobbies on health care reform.

In all, Obama now has nearly 1,000 donors, including the batch of nearly 600 donors posted Saturday. 

The new donors include at least one familiar name: Fred Eychaner, the billionaire Chicago publisher who was one of the biggest donors to Democratic super PACs this election. Many of the Democrats' biggest super PAC donors are absent, including hedge fund billionaire James Simons and Houston trial lawyers Steve and Amber Mostyn. But some other donors who gave at least $1 million to super PACs -- Florida philantropist Barbara Stiefel, gardener Amy P. Goldman and Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs -- have given.

The amounts of each donation will be revealed by late April, when the inaugural committee must file a report with the Federal Election Commission.