Michigan donors to Biden inauguration: 'I want to be part of it'

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Jack and Nanette Keiser of Kalamazoo are two of at least 56 Michigan residents who've chipped in financially to support President-elect Joe Biden's inaugural committee. They also have a bottle of champagne waiting for noon Wednesday when Biden is sworn in.

“Can we drink champagne at noon?" Jack, a retired lawyer, said his wife asked him recently.

"This year we can," he told her.

Preparations are made prior to a dress rehearsal for the inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on January 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. The inauguration will take place on January 20.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden's inauguration will be a scaled-back affair in Washington, D.C., and the list of disclosed donors from Michigan also looks different.

Four years ago, large Michigan corporations, such as Dow Chemical Co., Quicken Loans and General Motors Co., helped fund President Donald Trump's inauguration. This year, the Michigan donors reported by the Biden Inaugural Committee so far feature individuals — some of whom said they gave only small amounts of about $200.

With more specific disclosures due in the coming months, Biden's committee is now reporting only contributors who gave over $200 but not the amounts they gave. Currently, there are 55 Michigan donors — including the Keisers of Kalamazoo — on the list.

According to the committee, PIC 2021, it is accepting only contributions from U.S. citizens, permanent residents and American corporate entities and associations. It's not accepting contributions from registered lobbyists, foreign agents or fossil fuel companies, those whose primary business is "extraction, processing, distribution or sale of oil, gas or coal."

Many of the Michigan donors are people like Paul Borucki, a 63-year-old Democratic precinct delegate from Auburn Hills. Borucki said he gave about $200 to support the inauguration of Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

"I believe in the man and in Kamala. I believe that they are going to do good things for our country. It’s an historic inauguration and I wanted to be a part of it," he said.

Arthur Baron, a 68-year-old attorney from Menominee, also donated to the committee.

Baron said he went to law school in Alabama, where he saw Biden speak in the 1970s after he was first elected to the U.S. Senate. Biden is one heck of a person, Baron said this week.

"I have nothing but the highest hopes and expectations for the new president," he added.

As for Jack Keiser, the 76-year-old said he is excited about a change from the Trump administration and the unity message Biden has touted on the campaign trail.

"I hope he’ll continue his theme about unity. He’ll keep trying to unite us," Keiser said.

Keiser added that he wasn't initially high on Biden during the crowded Democratic presidential primaries. But given his history of working across the aisle, Biden is the right guy at the right time, he said.

"If anybody can bring about some bipartisanship and some uniting of the people, it’s him," Keiser said. "But boy, he’s got a lot of problems."