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Two Minnesotans make up bulk of state’s donations to presidential inauguration

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WASHINGTON - Two donors from Minnesota gave $325,000 to pay for President Obama's second inauguration in January, making up the vast bulk of the $364,570 donated by residents of the state, according to data released Monday by the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation.

The single biggest donor by far is an unfamiliar name in Minnesota politics: Johannes Marliem of Wayzata, who contributed $225,000. According to the web site of the Marliem Marketing Group where Marliem is listed as founder and CEO, he's a graduate of the University of Minnesota and previously worked for Best Buy. A search of campaign donations also shows that Marliem gave $132,500 to Obama's campaign and various state Democratic parties during the 2012 election cycle. There is no evidence Marliem made political contributions before 2012.

The second biggest contributor is a much more familiar name, Alida Messinger, who contributed $100,000. Messinger has helped fund the liberal group, Alliance for a Better Minnesota and is the former wife of Gov. Mark Dayton.

Overall, individual and corporate donors gave more than $43 million. No Minnesota-based companies are listed as contributors to the inauguration.

A couple of other familiar names that popped up on the donor list include DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken, who gave $305.

One surprising entry is Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, who also gave $305. Paulsen's most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission also shows a payment for the same amount from Paulsen's campaign committee and records the entry as a ticket to the inaugural ball. A campaign aide did not respond to a request for more details about Paulsen's contribution.