Donors pay to party with Baldacci

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AUGUSTA – More than $300,000 was raised from private donors to pay for two days worth of festivities to celebrate the inauguration of Gov. John Baldacci, who was sworn in for his second term last week.

Baldacci, a Democrat, took the oath of office during a joint convention of the Legislature on Wednesday night at the Augusta Civic Center. On Thursday, he celebrated with a gala, also at the Civic Center.

In total, the Maine Gubernatorial Inaugural Committee raised $306,500 from 50 private donors. The committee is organized as a nonprofit and is not required to disclose it contributions, but they were made public Monday.

“The governor made it very clear from the get-go that while he knew private donations were necessary to keep ticket prices low and the event inclusive, he wanted the people of Maine to know exactly where the money was coming from,” said Jan Messerschmidt, communications director for the committee.

Tickets were required for both the swearing in and the ball. They were free for the first event and cost $15 for the second, which included food from around Maine and live entertainment.

The largest donor was Irving Woodlands Inc., which gave $20,000 to sponsor the inauguration and gala. Other large donors included T.D. Banknorth, L.L. Bean, Hannaford Brothers, Casella Waste Systems, Poland Spring Water Co. and the Maine Employers’ Mutual Insurance Co., each of which contributed $15,000.

Five other donors gave $10,000 each, one gave $7,500 and 23 gave $5,000.

According to Messerschmidt, contributors received a commemorative gift, tickets to the inauguration and gala, and their names printed in the program.

No public money was spent on the inauguration or the gala, Messerschmidt said.

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