$26 Million Payment Shows Importance of Presidential Inaugural Committees Disclosing Their Donors

Feb 15, 2018

Notoriously lax rules for inaugural spending allowed Trump committee to funnel money to firm close to family

WASHINGTON – Today, President Trump’s inaugural committee disclosed in tax filings that it had raised an astonishing $107 million for the inauguration, and paid an unprecedented $26 million to a newly-created firm led by an associate of the Trump family, and only donated $5 million to charity, raising questions about the lack of rules on the use of inaugural funds by a Presidential Inaugural Committee.

“This is about ensuring that the American people are treated with the transparency and accountability they deserve,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal and FEC reform at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “The Trump inaugural committee’s tax filing raises more questions than it answers about how the money raised was actually spent. Because inaugural committees are not subject to the same reporting rules as campaign committees, the public has no way of knowing how the millions being awarded to firms with close ties to the president are actually being spent. It is uncertain why Trump’s inaugural committee paid nearly $26 million to a newly-created firm with close ties to the Trump family, and paid $25 million to the same event planning firm that did the job for $5 million in 2008. There is a real risk of corruption and self-dealing when corporations, government contractors, and other special interests can write massive checks that the inaugural committee can spend with minimal oversight or transparency.”

President Obama’s first inauguration raised $55 million and spent it on ten days of events; Trump’s inauguration raised $107 million for just three days of parties.

Legislation requiring that presidential inaugural committees disclose how they are spending the tens of millions raised is long overdue. CLC co-signed a letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Judiciary Committee to support the Presidential Inaugural Committee Oversight Act, which would fill the current disclosure gap by requiring that inaugural expenditures as well as contributions be disclosed to the public.

CLC and Democracy 21 filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission in May over Trump’s inaugural committee failing to report essential information about donors, including legally required information. Following that complaint, the inaugural committee amended its reports.

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