Biden names inauguration team tasked with creating safe event

Jordan Fabian and Ryan Teague Beckwith

President-elect Joe Biden took the first official steps toward planning his Jan. 20 inauguration, launching an inaugural committee to plan the day he will be sworn into office.

Biden on Monday tapped Tony Allen, president of the historically black Delaware State University, as the panel’s chief executive officer. Allen once worked as a speechwriter for Biden in the Senate and also helped arrange the nearly all-virtual Democratic National Convention this year.

Biden rounded out the committee’s leadership with Maju Varghese, his campaign’s chief operating officer; Erin Wilson, national political director; and Yvanna Cancela, the Nevada state senator who was among the first to endorse the president-elect.

Delaware State University President Tony Allen

A presidential inauguration usually includes mass gatherings at the ceremony as well as galas and other events. But with coronavirus cases spiking, the committee will be forced to find alternatives and develop a significant online presence.

The committee said its members and leaders in Congress will work on “prioritizing keeping people safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19 while engaging all Americans.”

Biden’s inauguration planners will likely be closely watched for their fundraising activities.

Earlier: Trump Fussed Over Tablecloths and Rockettes for the Inauguration

President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee came under scrutiny from federal prosecutors over how it spent the record $107 million it raised, connections to foreign donors and distribution of tickets to exclusive events. The District of Columbia’s attorney general also sued the committee over allegedly excessive payments to Trump’s Washington hotel.

Trump inaugural officials denied any wrongdoing.

One of the donors, Imaad Shah Zuberi, pleaded guilty to obstructing a federal investigation into his activities. He was accused of backdating a check to another donor and deleting related email evidence.

Trump appointed his friend and real-estate investor, Tom Barrack, to lead his inaugural committee.