Donald Trump's $100 million inauguration: We don't know where millions from top donors eventually went

Sheldon Adelson gave $5 million to the Trump inauguration, which raised twice as much as Obama's

By Matthew Rozsa
April 19, 2017 6:36PM (UTC)
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(AP/Richard Shiro/Salon)

Donald Trump may have micromanaged his inauguration, but apparently that doesn't mean he will account for how all of the money raised for his inauguration was spent — even though it was more than twice as much as what was collected for the first inauguration of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Roughly $107 million was raised for President Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20, according to a New York Times report. By contrast, only $53 million was raised for the 2009 inauguration of Obama. Although this information was revealed through disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, it did not mention how much money was left over or how it would be spent (although Trump's inaugural committee did say it would try to find charities to donate it to).


While presidents face fewer restrictions in their inaugural spending than they do for their campaigns, Trump's two predecessors applied more limits than Trump. President George W. Bush limited gifts at $100,000 in 2001 and $250,000 in 2005. President Barack Obama outright prohibited lobbyists and corporations from donating to his 2009 inauguration and limited individual gifts at $50,000, although in 2013 he capped individual gifts at $250,000 and allowed corporate gifts of as much as $1 million. By contrast, although Trump did not let registered federal lobbyists contribute and refused to accept corporate gifts exceeding $1 million, he did not establish any limits on individual donations.

The largest individual donors to Trump's inauguration included casino entrepreneur Sheldon Adelson, who donated $5 million, as well as NFL franchise owners Shahid R. Khan (of the Jacksonville Jaguars), Robert Kraft (the New England Patriots, through his holding company Kraft Group LLC), Stan Kroenke (the Los Angeles Rams), Robert McNair (the Houston Texans), and Dan Snyder (the Washington Redskins), who each gave $1 million, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Trump also received large donations from corporations such as tobacco company Reynolds American ($1 million), Quicken Loans ($750,000), Chevron ($525,000), American Financial Group ($500,000) and Citgo Petroleum ($500,000).

Perhaps most worthy of  note: The billionaire behind the Dakota Access pipeline — Kelcy Warren — gave $250,000 to Trump's inauguration committee in December. President Trump gave final approval to construction of the pipeline in February.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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