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Close Friend of Trump Family Got Rich Off the Inauguration

Feb. 15, 2018

Close Friend of Trump Family Got Rich Off the Inauguration

Statements from Public Citizen Experts

Note: Tax filings submitted Wednesday show for the first time that much of the money from President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee was given to a business run by a close friend of the Trump family. Public Citizen repeatedly has called for an accounting of where all of Trump’s inaugural money went.

“No wonder Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee has remained mum on how it spent a whopping $107 million for an inaugural event that should have cost less than half that amount: Much of the money was squandered on exorbitant fees for services run by at least one close friend of the Trump family.

Tax filings now show that Trump’s inaugural committee paid nearly $26 million to an event planning firm run by an adviser and friend to the First Lady. The friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, personally awarded herself $1.62 million for her services.

Half of the money was awarded to just two companies, with the remainder wasted on high salaries, legal fees and travel. The Trump inaugural committee’s spending was fiscal mismanagement at its worst.”

     – Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division

“Thomas Barrack, the head of Trump’s inaugural committee, bragged that ‘millions of dollars of reserve funds will be allocated to various charities, institutions and foundations in an amount that surely will exceed any previous inauguration.’ Instead, only about $5 million – a fraction of the massive total funds raised by the committee – was given to charity.

This embarrassing abuse of funds demonstrates the desperate need for Congress to pass the inaugural committee financing reform legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). This important bill would require that expenditures by inaugural committees be reasonable and fully disclosed.”

     – Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs, Public Citizen