POWERED by billionaires and corporations, President Donald Trump raised US$107 million for his inaugural festivities, documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show, and almost double the record set by President Barack Obama eight years before. Trump's inaugural committee raised more than twice as much as Barack Obama's in 2009.
The largest donor was GOP mega donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who gave $5 million. Depending on the level of contribution, donors gained access to a slate of private events with Trump and his inner circle, as well as special seating for his swearing in and other public events.
Trump's team set no limits on what corporations and individuals could contribute to the inaugural committee, which coordinated more than 20 events over six days to mark the arrival of the new Republican president. Coal mogul Christopher Cline, principal owner of Foresight Energy Partners, gave $1 million.
The telecom behemoth gave $2 million in cash contributions as well as an $82,483 in-kind donation for "mobile equipment/software". In more recent years, he's given money to the party, to 2012 candidate Mitt Romney, and to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, FEC records show. PDVSA recently offered up a almost 50 percent stake in Citgo as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan from Russian firm Rosneft.
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"We are proud that we had the opportunity to support the Presidential Inauguration committee, the organization behind a uniquely American event that allows for the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next".
Boeing, which gave $1 million, was a strong supporter of the Export-Import Bank, which Trump attacked on the campaign trail but recently praised and nominated former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5th Dist.) as its president.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday that companies and individuals gave to the inaugural committee out of civic pride.
Donations to the inauguration may come after a victory, but they can still have the basic message of a campaign donation ("You are a politician I like, and I would like to support you with a few dollars.").
For Trump, the fast pace of fundraising appears to have continued past Inauguration Day. Obama limited contributions to $50,000 in 2009 but lifted that cap four years later.
For Obama's second inaugural in 2013, his committee raised about $43 million.
Inaugural committees have broad leeway in how they spend their money and what they do with the leftovers, although some limitations apply, according to Fischer. Federal campaigns wouldn't be able receive the money because it was raised outside contribution limits, he said.
Money donated to the Trump inaugural committee falls into two categories, said Larry Sabato, political analyst at the University of Virginia.