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Biden fills out inauguration team


First shared with CNN, the new additions to the team — which will plan the celebration and activities surrounding the President-elect’s swearing-in on January 20 — comprise a diverse group of staff who worked on Biden’s campaign in various roles.

Alana Mounce, who served as the campaign’s Nevada state director during the general election, will be chief of staff. She is joined by incoming White House deputy communications director Pili Tobar, who will serve as the committee’s communications director.

Katie Petrelius, who was the national finance director for the campaign since its launch, will take the same role on the inauguration committee, and Christian Tom, the campaign’s director of digital partnerships, will act as digital director.

Adrienne Elrod, who served as director of surrogate operations and strategy for the campaign, will take the helm of talent and external relations, a role that will involve booking celebrity guests and performers, as is customary during an inauguration. Her role in particular is met with a special challenge this year to incorporate special performances and guests, whether in person or virtual, into the activities during a global pandemic.

This senior staff joins the group Biden announced Monday, which includes chief executive officer Tony Allen, executive director Maju Varghese and deputy executive directors Erin Wilson and Yvanna Cancela.

More details on the event itself will be announced in the coming days and weeks, according to the committee.

Inaugural committees operate as nonprofits and federal law does not impose limits on the size of contributions they can accept, but the committee has decided it will accept corporate contributions of up to $1 million to help fund Biden’s swearing-in festivities, according to an inaugural committee official involved in the planning. It has also capped donations from individuals at $500,000 apiece, the official said.

Under its ground rules, however, the organization will not accept contributions from current federal lobbyists or people representing foreign governments. In addition, the committee will not accept money from fossil fuel companies or the executives who run them. It defines those companies as ones whose “primary business is the extraction, processing, distribution or sale of oil, gas or coal.”

Biden’s decision to accept corporate contributions puts him closer in line with President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2013, when Obama opted to accept corporate funds. That was a change from 2009, when Obama rejected all corporate support for his first inauguration and capped individual donations at $50,000 per person.

Inaugural committees accept private funds to help underwrite the parties, balls and other events typically associated with a presidential swearing-in, though it’s not clear how much Biden expects to raise for his festivities, which likely will be more restrained because of the coronavirus pandemic. Obama raised a little more than $53 million for his first inauguration and nearly $43.8 million for his second event.

It remains unclear whether President Donald Trump, who refuses to concede the election and continues to sow doubt about its outcome, will attend the inauguration. But Republicans and aides are encouraging him to consider attending Biden’s swearing-in.
The expectation is the event itself will be smaller than usual and attendees will have to wear masks and maintain social distance within the ticketed parameters. It’s expected the platform will host far fewer than 1,600 people, and there is also ongoing discussion about requiring Covid-19 tests for anyone who will stand on the main platform near the President-elect, who is 78.

Biden said over the summer that he did not want to wear a mask for his inauguration ceremony and an aide tells CNN that this is still the President-elect’s preference. The congressional committee did determine that everyone will be required to follow mask and social-distancing guidelines.


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