Associated Press: Huge indeed: $107 million in donations for Trump's inaugural

Julie Bykowicz and Nancy Benac
Apr 19, 2017
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Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit pro-transparency group, countered: "If you take Trump at his word that when political figures accept large amounts of money from corporate interests or special interests that they're indebted to those big donors, there's certainly reason to question what donors to Trump's inaugural committee might expect in return...

While the government sets strict contribution limits on political campaigns, the only federal restrictions on donations to inaugural committees are a ban on foreign nationals, according to Fischer, of the Campaign Legal Center. Past presidents-elect have tended to set voluntary limits on their inaugural fundraising, but Trump's only restriction was to ban money from lobbyists, he said.

Obama in 2009 set a $50,000 cap on individual contributions and banned money from corporations, political action committees and lobbyists. He lifted those caps in 2013, when he raised about $43 million for a lower-key event.

Inaugural committees have broad leeway in how they spend their money and what they do with the leftovers, although some limitations apply, according to Fischer. As a 501(c)(4) organization, for example, the committee could use some of the money to give bonuses to staff, but IRS rules say the committee couldn't operate primarily to benefit a small group of individuals. Federal campaigns wouldn't be able receive the money because it was raised outside contribution limits, he said.

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