President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised an unprecedented $107 million for a ceremony that officials promised would be “workmanlike,” and the committee pledged to give leftover funds to charity. Nearly eight months later, the group has helped pay for redecorating at the White House and the vice president’s residence in Washington.
But nothing has yet gone to charity.
What is left from the massive fundraising is a mystery, clouded by messy and, at times, budget-busting management of a private fund that requires little public disclosure. The Associated Press spoke with eight people — vendors, donors and Trump associates — involved in planning and political fundraising for the celebration, an event that provides an early look at the new president’s management style and priorities. The people described a chaotic process marked by last-minute decisions, staffing turnover and little financial oversight.
Among the head-scratching line-items was the pre-inaugural Lincoln Memorial concert, which came with a $25 million price tag, according to four of the people. The price dwarfs a similar event staged eight years earlier for Obama’s first inauguration. One person familiar with the committee’s thinking said the $25 million included broadcasting costs and other events, complicating an apples-to-apples comparison with past inaugural concert expenses.
Other people familiar with the committee’s activities before and aftersaid its efforts were hobbled by a shortage of staff with relevant experience.
Tom Barrack, chairman of the private Presidential Inaugural Committee, and other former committee officials said the inauguration was a great success but declined to answer detailed questions from AP about how money was spent. Barrack said that keeping the books closed was no different from any past inauguration.
In a recent statement, Barrack said the committee’s donations to charity “surely will exceed any previous inauguration,” but will have to wait until the end of November, when he said the committee will publicly disclose details about its finances.
Barrack told the AP in June that “a full and clean external audit has been conducted and completed” of the inaugural committee’s finances, though the committee would not share a copy with AP or say who performed it.
Two Trump associates familiar with efforts to sort out the financing said they were unaware of a completed third-party audit. Three people said the delay in doling out leftover money…