The inauguration of Donald Trump came with a massive price-tag.
The inaugural committee had unprecedented success in raising money for the inauguration, since caps on individual contributions that both former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush utilized, were eliminated. As the Washington Post reported, Trump’s inaugural committee sold access to the president in order to raise funds:
“For seven-figure contributions, Trump’s richest supporters will get a slew of special perks during the inauguration weekend, including eight tickets to a ‘candlelight dinner’ that will feature “special appearances” by Trump, his wife, Melania, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, according to a sheet detailing “underwriter package benefits” obtained by The Washington Post. The 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee confirmed the authenticity of the donor brochure, which was first reported by the Center for Public Integrity.”
The committee raised a massive $107 million. But Trump’s inauguration was considered “workmanlike,” and the festivities were under-attended, despite Sean Spicer’s insane declarations of otherwise.
So, sitting on a massive chunk of change, the committee pledged to donate whatever funds were leftover to charity.
That has yet to be done.
They Raised $107 Million…Where Did It Go?
Furthermore, how much could go to charity is unknown, as well, since what was spent at the inauguration remains shrouded in mystery – and, perhaps, that’s purposeful. The Associated Press reports:
“President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised an unprecedented $107 million for a ceremony that officials promised would be ‘workmanlike,’ and the committee pledged to give leftover funds to charity. Nearly eight months later, the group has helped pay for redecorating at the White House and the vice president’s residence in Washington.
“But nothing has yet gone to charity.
“What is left from the massive fundraising is a mystery, clouded by messy and, at times, budget-busting management of a private fund that requires little public disclosure.”
Those involved in the inauguration planning and execution described a “chaotic process marked by last-minute decisions, staffing turnover and little financial oversight,” the AP reported.
‘Little Financial Oversight’
The “little financial oversight” bears some scrutiny.
For example, Trump’s committee reportedly spent a whopping $25 million for a pre-inaugural concert, which the AP describes as “head-scratching” – and it certainly should raise some eyebrows.
“Among the head-scratching line-items was the pre-inaugural Lincoln Memorial concert, which came with a $25 million price tag, according to four of the people. The price dwarfs a similar event staged eight years earlier for Obama’s first inauguration. One person familiar with the committee’s thinking said the $25 million included broadcasting costs and other events, complicating an apples-to-apples comparison with past inaugural concert expenses.”
Steve Benen put the comparisons into context in the Rachel Maddow Blog. Former President Barack Obama also held a pre-inaugeral concert at the same location. Obama’s concert featured entertainers of a far more famous nature, had around 40 times as many attendees as Trump’s concert…and cost one-fifth as much.
Committee Refuses To Release Records
Even if the $25 million price tag is somehow accurate, there is still a massive amount of money left from the $107 million raised. And that money is supposed to go to charity. The Trump committee promised to release the list of charitable donations in April, but when that deadline came, they stated they were still “identifying charities toward which it would direct leftover money.”
Five months past that deadline, and they still haven’t released anything. And that in itself is problematic, according to the AP.
“Leaders of previous inaugurations expressed surprise at the slow timeline. They say they had a general handle on their finances – and had already started giving money away – within three months of Inauguration Day, though formally closing down the committees took many months longer.
“‘The thing about inaugural expenses, they’re not complicated,’ said Steve Kerrigan, head of President Barack Obama’s 2013 inaugural committee. ‘You take money in, you pay it out, and then you know what you’re left with when it’s done.’”
But because inauguration funds are private donations, there are few limits on how excess funds are spent. And while previous presidents have used any leftover monies to supplement other activities such as the White House Easter Egg Roll, Trump’s committee refuses to show how the excess funds have been allocated. It certainly hasn’t gone to charity, as previously promised.
Tom Barrack, head of the inaugural committee and a personal friend of Donald Trump’s, refused to provide the AP with any details. Furthermore, he claims that there has been an audit of the finances, but refused to share a copy or say who performed it.
It’s as if the Trump inaugural committee simply doesn’t want people to know where those leftover funds are going.
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