Biden’s inauguration will be virtual. Why is he fundraising for it?

▶ Watch Video: Biden says Inauguration Day events may look different due to pandemic

Though President-elect Joe Biden’s team is talking about a dramatically downsized inauguration in January, that might not be evident from the fundraising effort underway. An email sent to the Democratic Party’s biggest donors and bundlers to ask for donations for Mr. Biden’s inaugural festivities isn’t all that different from the missives sent before any presidential inauguration. 

Fundraisers expect more meetings over the next few days on fundraising efforts. One Democratic fundraiser told CBS News there are still unanswered questions about where the money is going, given the virtual nature of some of the festivities. This source added that while some donors have expressed a willingness to give now, others are waiting to hear more about the plans. 

The Biden Inaugural Committee tweeted on Tuesday that while this inauguration will look different, “we will continue to honor the inaugural traditions Americans have always know: an official outdoor swearing-in ceremony, community service events, a reimagined parade, and virtual celebrations that bring the country together.”

A Biden Inaugural Committee official said there would be considerable costs associated with reinventing this year’s inaugural events, including production, staffing, outreach and engagement, and technology.

The email runs through what the event’s benefactors will be receiving in exchange for their largesse, covering individual contributions at $25,000 to $500,000 and organization contributions from $500,000 to $1 million. Each tier has different perks, ranging from an invitation to a virtual briefing with Biden-Harris transition co-chairs and senior leadership (for all tiers) to an invitation for a virtual event with Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (for individual donors who give $500,000 or organizations that give $1 million).

It’s unclear if there will be packages for donors giving less than $25,000. A spokesperson for the Biden Inauguration Committee declined to comment. 

Sources told CBS News the organizers are still in the early stages of fundraising. 

The committee also intends to make voluntary public donor disclosures before Inauguration Day.

A spokesperson for the Biden Inauguration Committee declined to comment on how high the fundraising goals are.

Biden for President national finance chair Katie Petrelius is handling fundraising for inauguration, though National Finance Committee Member Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux is helping to coordinate these donations.

Progessive groups are calling on the Inaugural Committee to reject corporation donations. More than four dozen progressive groups, including Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, Sunrise Movement, and Demand Progress, signed a letter urging the committee to expand the ban to all corporate donations.

According to its donation page, the Biden Inaugural Committee isn’t accepting contributions from lobbyists registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act or from foreign agents registered under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. It’s also rejecting donations from fossil fuel companies, their executives, and PACs organized by them.

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