Trump Inauguration Spending Questioned

President Donald Trump’s inauguration bash was remarkable not only for the paucity of top-tier talent booked for entertainment, but for the $25 million spent to stage the pre-inaugural Lincoln Memorial concert headlined by Toby Keith and 3 Doors Down.

President Donald Trump
Evan Vucci/AP
– President Donald Trump
Listening during a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

That amount clocks in at about five times the cost of former President Barack Obama’s first pre-inaugural concert, and dwarfed his second inauguration concert in 2013 that featured U2, Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks, and Usher, among others.

Team Trump dispensed with caps on individual contributions to his inaugural committee, as observed by Obama and former President George W. Bush, and, with no limits, the fund topped an unprecedented $107 million with seed money like the $5 million gifted by billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

The inaugural committee was, and still is, headed up by Tom Barrack – a financier and former CEO of Colony Capital – who bought the mortgage on the late Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch and become a financial adviser to the doomed superstar.

Previous inaugural committees have been said to wrap their work and close accounts within as little as three months after the event, with any leftover funds often going to White House restoration projects or charities.

More than nine months since Trump’s inaugural, however, the committee has yet to formally close or distribute whatever funds are left over to charity – although Melania Trump has indicated some of the money went into the recent renovations at the White House and the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.

Barrack said the inauguration was a great success but declined to answer detailed questions from the Associated Press about how money was spent, but did issue a statement saying the committee’s donations to charity “surely will exceed any previous inauguration,” but will have to wait until the end of November when he says the committee will publicly disclose details about its finances.

But leaders of previous inaugurations expressed surprise with the slow pace.

“The thing about inaugural expenses, they’re not complicated,” said Steve Kerrigan, head of Obama’s 2013 inaugural committee. “You take money in, you pay it out, and then you know what you’re left with when it’s done.”