Private donations fund inaugural

Private donations fund inaugural

The crowd at the 2019 inauguration of statewide elected officers applauds. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
The crowd at the 2019 inauguration of statewide elected officers applauds. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

A Tucson auto dealer gave more money than anyone else for some seats at Monday’s inaugural.

Records obtained Wednesday by Capitol Media Services show Jim Click at the top of the donor list at $25,000. That made him $10,000 more generous to finance the ceremony to swear in Gov. Doug Ducey and five other state officials.

Click did not immediately respond to messages left with his assistant.

But what inaugural organizers said that size donation entitled recipients to six seats up near the front of the event in the courtyard between the House and Senate and six tickets to the reception afterwards.

Also in the package were three parking passes, the right to have three photos taken at the reception, and six inaugural pins.

That donation — along with any of at least $10,000 — also entitled the donor to put a corporate logo in the program handed out and on the inaugural web site. But Click’s name and his dealerships were nowhere on the program which had to be printed before he made his pledge.

Pinnacle West Capital Corp., parent company of Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest electric utility, kicked in $15,000. That level netted three prime seats and VIP reception invitations.

That was far more generous than other state utilities, including Tucson Electric, Southwest Gas, Salt River Project and Cox Communications who each kicked in $5,000 — enough to get their names on the program.

Other $15,000 donors include Well Care Health Plans, Honeywell Aerospace, Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits, Freeport McMoRan and United Health Group, though gubernatorial press aide Patrick Ptak said the cash from the last three is so far just pledged and had not yet been received.

All totaled the cash received and pledged totals $272,500.

Some other companies got their names on the program with in-kind contributions.

For example, the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance, the lobbying arm of the grocery store industry, put on a lunch for volunteers, separate from the VIP event. Mission Linen Supply provided the linens for that more formal event for the major donors. And AFR Furniture Rental provided the cushioned chairs on the stage for those being sworn in and their spouses.

Ptak said the idea was to fund the event with private dollars, saying there was no state cash involved. But the governor’s office has yet to produce a formal list of where and how the money was spent.

And not all of that went to the production itself: Volunteers from the governor’s office who worked on the inaugural on their own time doing everything from setting up and parking lot duty to being ushers, got new sweatshirts emblazoned with the event name, the state seal and Ducey’s name.