Donald Trump’s inauguration committee raised a record-breaking $107 million to send him into office, and almost a year after the staggering amount of money was raised, no one seems to know what happened to the leftover funds.
According to Newsweek, the Trump administration has disclosed very little information surrounding the large collective donation, which was led by billionaire investor Thomas Barrack.
Newsweek notes that the amount raised drew quizzical stares from politicos who were familiar with a traditional inauguration. Purchasing Chrisette Michele’s soul aside, the president’s inauguration was actually in line with celebrations before it.
Craig Holman, a lobbyist for Public Citizen who’s taken on the daunting task of trying to track the money, told Newsweek that the missing money is raising suspicions.
“It really raises a lot of suspicions that these funds were mismanaged and probably no longer even exist,” Holman told Newsweek on Wednesday. “I strongly suspect that the funds have just been wasted away. I mean, there was no reason in the world the Trump Inaugural Committee needed to raise $107 million.”
Here is how Newsweek explains how inaugurations’ costs are usually divided and how Trump’s administration has yet to provide any actual proof as to what happened with the remaining money:
The inauguration tab is split between several groups: the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, the U.S. federal government, state and local governments, as well as the Presidential Inaugural Committee. The latter group traditionally collects funds from private donors to finance inaugural balls, a concert and private dinners where a hefty donation often secures a seat at the table.
After funding Trump’s celebration, the committee said it was evaluating charities that would receive the remaining money. In late September, the committee announced that it had donated $3 million to multiple groups involved in hurricane relief efforts in the Gulf Coast, Florida and the Caribbean. An undetermined amount of funds were allocated to redecorating the White House and Vice President Mike Pence’s home in Washington, rather than charitable efforts.
Barrack, chairman of the private Presidential Inaugural Committee, said details about the committee’s donations to charity would be released in November. Yet the deadline passed without further financial information being disclosed. A spokesman for Barrack declined to comment on the report’s delay or allegations that the committee mismanaged funds under his leadership.
The reason this has drawn interest is that the President’s Inaugural Committee is required to disclose total donations to the Federal Election Commission, but, Newsweek adds, there is no legislation requiring that the committee release the whereabouts of the remaining money to the public, an oversight Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) wants to change.
“There needs to be transparency and accountability for money raised or spent in the name of our elected offices,” Schrader told Newsweek in a statement. “The American people expect and deserve more, and working on this should be an easy, bipartisan slam dunk that everyone can get behind.”
And, because all things money-related with the Trump family never seem to be what they appear, the FBI is reportedly looking into whether a Russian banker funneled presidential campaign donations through the National Rifle Association.
On Thursday, McClatchy reported that the FBI is looking into Aleksander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank, who also has ties to the Kremlin, to determine whether he used the NRA as cover to pump money into Trump’s campaign.
It’s unclear from the report how long the FBI has been looking into the reported ties or whether there was any evidence of payments from Torshin to the NRA, but the news site did note that several unnamed sources confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation.
McClatchy reports that in the 2016 elections, the NRA spent a record $55 million, most of which came from an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors. Of that money, $30 million was used to support Trump, almost triple the amount the group spent in 2012 to support Mitt Romney’s presidential run.
The report notes that it is illegal for campaigns to accept foreign contributions. There are a lot of dots here, but if the FBI can connect them, this could be a yuge deal. Yuge.