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It was huge: Trump inaugural drew slew of top-dollar checks

  • FILE- In this Jan. 20, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump dances with first lady Melania Trump at the Liberty Ball in Washington. Big money from billionaires, corporations and a roster of NFL owners poured into Donald Trump’s inaugural committee in record-shattering amounts, to pull off an event that turned out considerably lower-key than previous inaugural celebrations. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) Patrick Semansky

  • FILE- In this Jan. 20, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump waves as he walks with first lady Melania Trump during the inauguration parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. Big money from billionaires, corporations and a roster of NFL owners poured into Donald Trump’s inaugural committee in record-shattering amounts, to pull off an event that turned out considerably lower-key than previous inaugural celebrations. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool, File) Evan Vucci

  • FILE- In this Jan. 20, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump gives his inaugural address after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Big money from billionaires, corporations and a roster of NFL owners poured into Donald Trump’s inaugural committee in record-shattering amounts, to pull off an event that turned out considerably lower-key than previous inaugural celebrations. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) Patrick Semansky



Associated Press
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

It was huge.

    Big money from    billionaires, corporations and a roster of NFL owners poured into Donald Trump’s inaugural committee in record-shattering amounts – to pull off an event that was considerably lower-key than previous inaugural celebrations.

That leaves a bit of a mystery: What the $107 million was spent for and how much was left over – the excess, if any, to go to charity. It also raises a new round of questions about the influence of money in politics, this time for a president who promised to “drain the swamp” of Washington.

Contribution records from Trump’s inaugural committee, released Wednesday by the Federal Election Commission, show the president who railed as a candidate against the corrupting influence of big-money donors was only too willing to accept top-dollar checks for his swearing-in festivities.

Trump’s total take was about double the previous record set by Barack Obama, who collected $53 million in contributions in 2009, and had money left over to spend on the annual Easter egg roll and other White House events.

Trump’s top inaugural donor was Las Vegas gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who gave $5 million. He and his wife came away with prime seats for Trump’s swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20 and gained access to a private lunch with the new president and lawmakers at the Capitol. Phil Ruffin, another casino mogul and close friend of Trump, was among dozens of donors who gave $1 million each.

At least eight NFL team owners kicked in big money for the inauguration. Seven of them, including Patriots owner Bob Kraft, whose team won the Super Bowl and visited the White House on Wednesday, gave $1 million apiece. Kraft’s donation came via his limited liability company.

Trump plans to name the New York Jets’ Woody Johnson, one of those million-dollar donors, to be the country’s ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Asked whether the president feels conflicted about his committee accepting so much corporate and wealthy donor money, spokesman Sean Spicer said Wednesday that financing the inaugural is “a time-honored tradition” and there are “a lot of people who really take pride in helping us show the world a peaceful transformation of power.”