Balloons waiting to be released
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SCOTT JAGOW: Governors around the country will throw their inauguration parties this month. As Jeff Tyler reports, these are an invitation for corporate America.

JEFF TYLER: In Massachusetts, corporations can't give money to political campaigns, but they can chip in as much as $50,000 to help celebrate the newly-elected Democratic governor.

In California, Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger plans an expensive inaugural bash. To pay for it, companies like Chevron have donated as much as $50,000.

Edwin Bender with the National Institute on Money in State Politics says these contributions, often unregulated, allow companies to buy influence.

EDWIN BENDER: It's a business decision. And they're giving money so they can have access to a lawmaker who will be considering policy that may or may not affect their bottom line.

Because the inaugural donations are made after the election is over, Bender says they often get less public scrutiny.

In Los Angeles, I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

Follow Jeff Tyler at @JeffMarketplace