Where, Oh Where, Did the Trump Inaugural Money Go?

Statement of Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen

Note: D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine today filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee for violating its nonprofit status by grossly overpaying the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for food, services and rental space for inaugural activities. The lawsuit also alleges that the Trump Organization knowingly overcharged and double booked for its services and understood that the nonprofit funds would be used for prohibited private inurement to Trump’s businesses.

Somebody, somewhere, got rich off Trump’s inauguration. Now it looks like Trump’s own businesses may have pocketed some of the largesse.

Trump’s Inaugural Committee raised an all-time record-breaking $107 million – double the previous record of the 2009 Obama Inaugural Committee – while holding far fewer events and entertaining a much smaller crowd than the Obama inauguration.

Where did all this money go?

Public Citizen filed requests with Trump’s Inaugural Committee asking how the money was spent. We even went public in an effort to embarrass the committee into providing an answer – to no avail.

The lawsuit brought by D.C. Attorney General Racine alleging deliberate profiteering by Trump businesses and the Trump Inaugural Committee is not the only legal action pending against the committee. New York prosecutors are pursuing a criminal investigation relating to a foreign donor to the Inaugural Committee attempting to buy access to Trump.

We need answers to the questionable dealings of the Trump Inaugural Committee. But we also need to make sure this doesn’t happen again. That is why Public Citizen wholeheartedly supports legislation mandating that inaugural funds be spent on legitimate inaugural activities and fully disclosed. The measure is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and others as part of H.R. 1, the For the People Act.