Dec. 13, 2018
Trump Inaugural Committee Under Federal Criminal Investigation, Trump Associates May Have Gotten Rich Off Ceremony
Statement from Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division
Note: Federal prosecutors in New York announced today that they are examining donations made to then President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural committee to determine if any funds were misspent by Trump associates or made for the express purpose of gaining access to the incoming administration.
In October 2017, Public Citizen and other groups sent a letter to Trump and his inaugural committee pointing out that the committee as of that date had provided no accounting of the amount of surplus inaugural funds left over and calling for them to be given to the U.S. Treasury. And in February 2017, Public Citizen examined tax records showing that much of the money from Trump’s inauguration committee was given to a business run by a close friend of the Trump family.
Trump’s Inauguration was a sordid affair. It began cloaked in secrecy, with the Inaugural Committee refusing to disclose in a timely fashion how much it raised, from whom and how the money was spent. Months after the inauguration, it was revealed that a record-breaking $107 million was spent, but still no clear records were provided as to what all that money bought.
Trump managed to spend more than two times what Obama spent on his inauguration, which was a much larger affair.
Where did all this money go?
Public Citizen filed requests with the Inaugural Committee asking how the funds were spent. We sought information from the IRS. We even went public in an effort to embarrass the Inaugural Committee to give us an answer – all to no avail. Public Citizen also encouraged U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) to introduce legislation to prevent such secrecy in inaugural spending from ever happening again, but this legislation has languished.
Today we learn that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s 2017 Inaugural Committee misspent any of the record donations, as well as whether some of the committee’s top donors – including foreign donors – gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions.
It’s about time.