The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 19, 2013

Influence peddler? No inaugural souvenir for you!

By Al Kamen

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Eager to get a little presidential swag, a few gifts for people coming to town to attend the inauguration?

You can do it online at the Presidential Inauguration Store (, where you’ll find items ranging from caps for $10 to fancy designer clothes for around $125, to a “medallion set” for $7,500.

It’s simple: You just click on the item you want and then “add to cart.” When you’re done shopping, you click on “Go to checkout.” Don’t forget to “apply discount code,” which is “2013” and gets you a 15 percent discount.

Then you fill out the standard billing form: name, address, credit card info. You also have to say who your employer is and give your occupation. Then there’s this: “If this donation is from an entity rather than an individual, please provide the name of that entity here.”

Donation? Well, whatever. But then, before you can get to the final purchase, there’s this:

“By clicking this button I certify” six things: that you are over 16, that you’re a citizen or lawful resident, that if you are a company it’s an American one, that the money is not from a political action committee, that no one’s giving you money to make the “donation,” and that you are not a registered lobbyist.

That’s right. While the committee has dropped the ban on corporate contributions that it had during the last inaugural preparations, it will not accept money from certain employees of those corporations.

Probably not a good idea to lie on the form, so some lobbyists, sadly, may be swag-less.

“My children will be devastated to learn that I will be unable to bring home the much-sought-after $5 presidential dog button,” said Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board and a current registered lobbyist. “Will the humiliation ever cease?”

But wait! If you’re in town — as many lobbyists naturally are — you can go to the inauguration store at 1155 F St. NW and buy stuff there, no questions asked.

But if you buy more than $200 worth of stuff, you have to sign a form (for the Federal Election Commission) and — uh-oh — you must “certify” that you are not a “currently registered lobbyist.”

So you can “donate” some cash for swag, just no more than $200. Unclear whether you can shop there every day.