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What Happened to the Surplus Funds From Trump’s Inauguration?

Oct. 18, 2017

What Happened to the Surplus Funds From Trump’s Inauguration?

What Should Be a Significant Surplus Remains Unaccounted For

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nine months after the inauguration, President Donald Trump’s 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) has provided no accounting of the amount of surplus funds left over and very little explanation as to how the committee has managed this surplus. Today several civic groups and academics sent a letter to Trump and his inaugural committee asking what happened to the leftover funds and calling for them to be given to the U.S. Treasury.

The letter is signed by American Family Voices, Campaign for Accountability, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Common Cause, Democracy 21, End Citizens United, Friends of the Earth, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Prof. James A. Thurber, Norman J. Ornstein and Public Citizen.

Typically, inaugural committees begin dispensing surplus funds three or four months after the inauguration and close up shop shortly after.

“That is not the case with Trump’s 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee,” wrote the groups in their letter to the president. “Trump’s Inaugural Committee raised an all-time record of $107 million, well over twice the amount raised by [President Barack] Obama’s 2009 Inaugural Committee, and in all likelihood spent considerably less for Trump’s inauguration than was spent on either of Obama’s inaugurations.”

“Trump’s inauguration shaped up to be a relatively low-key affair,” noted the letter. “Obama’s 2009 inauguration stretched over five days, involving 10 official balls and hosted a record public attendance. Trump’s inauguration lasted three days, involved three official balls, and hosted a much smaller crowd.”

Though Trump and the inaugural committee are not required by law to answer questions about its surplus and expenditures, given the relatively small size of this year’s inauguration, it is reasonable to estimate that at least half or more of the funds raised by the committee could remain leftover as surplus, at least if it was spent in line with previous inaugurations.

“So what happened to all this money?” The letter concludes: “[W]e ask that the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee provide a full accounting of its expenditures and promptly distribute any surplus funds to donors or the General Fund of the Treasury.”

Read the letter here (PDF).