The Federal Election Commission released Wednesday the contribution records for Trump’s Inauguration ceremony and the sums of money are record-shattering: $107 million for an event that is considered lower key that other presidents’ inaugural celebrations.
Largest Donation: $5 Million
It is unclear what the money was spent on, but we do know the names of some of the event’s biggest sponsors. The president’s most generous inaugural donor was casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who made a $5 million donation. The billionaire and his wife had front seats at Trump’s swearing-in ceremony and access to a private lunch with the president and top lawmakers. Another gambling mogul, Phil Ruffin, who is also a friend of the president, donated $1 million.
The records also show that seven NFL team owners made an $1 million donation each. One of them is New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who visited the White House with his team this week after winning the Super Bowl. Another NFL donor, Woody Johnson, who owns the NY Jets, will be nominated the U.S. ambassador the U.K.
Kelcy Warren, a Texas billionaire who is sponsoring the Dakota Access Pipeline, donated $250,000, while coal mogul Christopher Cline, who owns Foresight Energy Partners, donated $1 million. Surprisingly, Trump pledged to restore America’s coal industry, and his administration gave Dakota Access the green light, with Trump less than a month in office.
Other million-dollar donations came from Boeing, Qualcomm, Bank of America, Pfizer, and Dow Chemical. Other companies made huge donations in goods and services. For instance, General Motors donated half a million dollars in “vehicle expenses,” Microsoft donated $500,000 worth of equipment. AT&T offered $2.1 million in hardware and software.
Gambling tycoon Steve Wynn paid entertainers and covered production expenses which were estimated at $729,000. Russian-born businessman Alexander Shustorovich donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund. It is worth noting that in 2000, the Republican National Committee (RNC) refused a donation from Shustorovich who is also an American citizen.
At the time, the RNC was concerned about the donor’s business ties with Russia. In 2012, Mitt Romney and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accepted money from him.
Lobbyists Not Allowed
Under the FEC’s rules, only foreign nationals are barred from making donations for an inaugural event. There are no limits to what sums should be donated, although previous presidents have set voluntary limits. Trump did not put restrictions, but added he will not take money from lobbyists.
It is surprising that a former presidential candidate who ran on an anti-corruption platform would accept donations from big-money donors. Trump raised double the $53 million Obama raised in 2009. The billionaire said he spent the leftover money on White House events such as the annual Easter egg roll.
When journalists asked Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer Wednesday whether the president felt conflicted about the top-dollar donations from corporations and wealthy businessmen, Spicer replied the event represents a “time-honored tradition,” and many donors “take pride” in helping with the celebrations.
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