Contributions from billionaires and corporations pushed President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee to a fundraising record of $106.7 million, roughly twice the previous record set by former President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.
Among the biggest donors for the celebration of Trump’s taking office in Washington were casino-owner billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn, a filing made public Wednesday by the Federal Election Commission shows. Adelson gave $5 million, and Wynn donated $729,217 through his Wynn Resorts.
Wynn, who has a long and complex relationship with Trump, is now the top fundraiser for the Republican National Committee. And Adelson has embraced the new president. After staying on the sidelines for much of the 2016 Republican primary, Adelson enjoyed a private White House dinner with the nation’s new leader in February. Phil Ruffin, another casino magnate who is a close friend of Trump, contributed $1 million.
International Bank Shares Corp., whose CEO Dennis Nixon was an early Trump supporter, gave $250,000. Nixon has long been critical of the Dodd-Frank financial industry reform law, one that Trump has already ordered the Treasury Department to review.
As part of winding down the inaugural committee, the organization said it plans to identify charities that will receive donations from excess money in its account. The committee didn’t disclose how much money was left over.
“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,” the committee’s chairman, Tom Barrack, said in a statement.
For many donors, the inaugural committee represented the last or only chance to get on the Trump bandwagon before he took the oath of office. Corporations, barred by federal law from donating to campaigns, can underwrite the costs of inaugural festivities.
Federal law allows inaugural committees to largely determine their own rules about who can contribute and how much. For his first inauguration, Obama limited donations to $50,000, and did not accept them from corporations or lobbyists. For his second, he raised the limit to $1 million and allowed corporate contributions. Trump’s team set no limit on the amounts individuals and corporations could give.
While the committee’s report to the FEC discloses its donors, the first glimpse into its spending doesn’t have to be shared until the spring of 2018, at the earliest, when the committee, a non-profit, files with the Internal Revenue Service.
Four years ago, Obama raised $43.7 million for his scaled-down second inauguration, which cost $40.3 million. Four years before that, Obama raised more than $53 million, a record at the time.