tomwachs/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A record-breaking $107 million poured in for President Trump’s inauguration celebration from corporate giants, business titans and a roster of NFL owners, raising new questions about the influence of money in politics.
On Tuesday, the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC), an organization appointed by the President-elect to plan and coordinate all inauguration activities, filed a 510-page report with the Federal Election Committee (FEC) to disclose that they had raised a staggering $106.7 million in donations — the most ever raised for a president’s inauguration.
In a statement, the inaugural committee said Trump’s inauguration “was one of the most accessible and affordable inaugurations for the public in recent history.”
The release of the contribution records reveals that Trump’s top inaugural donors included business leaders and corporations, including several from the financial, energy, and technology sector that have business dealings with the U.S. government.
“This is the complete opposite of what candidate Trump campaigned on, where he attacked these huge corporations, made clear they could buy politicians because he had done so, and is the political equivalent of overflowing the swamp not draining it,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy21, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works on money in politics and government reform issues.
He added that the report shows that Trump appears to have raised “influence money,” despite his campaign promises to avoid special interests.
The White House did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment
Businesses that donated at least $1 million included Boeing, Dow Chemical, Pfizer and Bank of America. Other financial companies like JPMorgan Chase and American Financial Group gave $500,000 each.
Energy companies also contributed heavily. Chevron Products, Exxon and Citgo each donated more than $500,000.
The owners of NFL teams the New England Patriots, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Texans and the Washington Redskins all wrote $1 million checks for Trump’s inauguration.
Trump’s largest donor was gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who gave $5 million.
The FEC requires reporting of individual donations, in money or items, with a value of $200 or more made to inaugural committees. However, where the money was spent and how it was used is still a mystery since the FEC does not require that information to be reported.
The big-money donations appear to counter Trump’s own statements. In August of last year, Trump railed against big-money donors who seek to curry favor with elected politicians.
“Look, I know the people that want something. I’ve been doing this all my life. I’ve been a very big contributor to many, many people on all sides for many, many years,” Trump stated on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I don’t want lobbyists. I don’t want special interests.”
According to a brochure obtained by the Center For Public Integrity last year, those who donated more than $1 million received exclusive access to Cabinet appointees and House and Senate leadership; an invite to an “intimate dinner” with Vice President Mike Pence and Mrs. Pence and tickets to other exclusive events with appearances by the First Family.
Trump’s inaugural committee raised nearly double the $53 million President Obama’s inaugural committee raised in 2009.
“The amount of funds raised for the inaugural celebration allowed the President to give the American people, those both at home and visiting Washington, a chance to experience the incredible moment in our democracy where we witness the peaceful transition of power, a cornerstone of American democracy,” said PIC Chairman Tom Barrack in a press release Tuesday.
On Wednesday during the White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called record-smashing donating “nonpartisan activity.”
“I think a lot of Americans and companies and entities are proud to support the inaugural,” he said. “And I think that you’ve seen that over time, the people who have been — there are a lot of people who really take pride in helping us show the world a peaceful transformation of power.”
The committee said that any leftover money will be donated to charities to be decided upon and announced at a later date.
Wertheimer said the undisclosed amount of funds could be a “pot of secret money for President Trump to play with,” if the total is taxed.
“There are no rules that apply to what can happen to this money,” Wertheimer said. “There is nothing to prevent this secret money from being turned into personal use by someone as long as they pay income taxes on it.”
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