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Are those inaugural contributions political contributions? Yes.

New city law says money for inaugural parties need to be treated as political contributions, ethics board says.

For much of the city's history, there were no limits on picking up the tab for an elected official's inaugural party. But after City Council last year amended campaign-finance laws,  fundraising for inaugurations became subject to contribution limits.

No one spent much time trying to figure out what the rules meant until the last month or so, because Monday is the first inauguration since the law was passed.

Among the people asking the city's Board of Ethics about how to interpret the law was Richard Hayden, a lawyer for Mayor Nutter's Political Action Committee.

In its Dec. 8 response to Hayden, the Board of Ethics said that until the end of the year, individuals can contribute up to the legal maximum of $2,600 toward inaugural expenses, and political action committees can kick in $10,600. Individuals and PACs can make these contributions even if they already gave the maximum to candidate before the election. That effectively doubles campaign finance limits.

Contributions to pay for inaugural expenses also must go to the candidate's political action committee to make giving easier to track.

The mayor is planning a much smaller affair this time around. In 2008, his campaign spent $850,000 for a party for 3,600 at the Navy Yard. This time, the party will be at the Convention Center and will cost about $400,000.

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