Broad Coalition of Civic Groups, Academics Endorse Legislation to End Secretive Spending by Presidential Inaugural Committees

Feb. 14, 2018

Broad Coalition of Civic Groups, Academics Endorse Legislation to End Secretive Spending by Presidential Inaugural Committees

Rep. Schrader and Sen. Cortez Masto Seek Transparency in Financing Inaugural Events

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today a broad coalition of civic groups and academics endorsed legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is also expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). The proposal finally would require that presidential inaugural committees tell the public how donations are used and where leftover money is sent.

Few rules govern the financing of inaugural committees. As a coalition letter sent Wednesday to the House Oversight Committee and House Judiciary Committee states, “Donations of $200 or more must be disclosed 90 days after the inauguration, and foreign nationals are prohibited from contributing to the inauguration. Beyond that, there are no disclosure requirements for expenditures, no guidelines for operating expenses and salaries paid by the inaugural committee, and no set rules on how surplus funds may be spent.”

The lack of transparency and accountability of inaugural committees has become a major issue today, since the Trump Inaugural Committee raised $107 million to pay for the 2016 inauguration, which likely cost less than half that amount. So far, more than one year after the inauguration, Trump’s Inaugural Committee has refused to say where the money went.

The coalition letter warns that transparency is needed for future inaugural committees. “The absence of transparency and accountability of the financing of inaugural committees has become a potential source of fiscal mismanagement and even corruption as these committees are now raising record amounts of funds from special interests in amounts that appear to far exceed the actual costs of inaugural activities,” the letter said.

The groups and academics endorsing the measures include: American Oversight, American Family Voices, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, Campaign for Accountability, Campaign Legal Center, Center for Media and Democracy, Center for Responsive Politics, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Common Cause, Democracy 21, Ambassador (ret.) Norman L. Eisen, Every Voice, Government Accountability Project, OpenTheGovernment.org, Norman J. Ornstein, Public Citizen, Sunlight Foundation, Prof. James A. Thurber and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Read the coalition letter here.

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