Remember when all of the political folks were putting pressure on the president to distance himself from his business interests because being the president and owning a business could be ... corrupt?
They were concerned that the president could use his political position to ensure that his business made even more money.
Well, it turns out the president of people who wear boat shoes’ inaugural committee spent $1.5 million at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., ahead of his 2017 swearing-in.
From ABC News:
It is part of an array of expenditures there and elsewhere that included more than $130,000 for customized seat cushions at two gala dinners for the president-elect, $10,000 to provide makeup to the servers at another formal dinner, and $2.7 million to a company that produced a Broadway-style rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” using Las Vegas show girls flown in by Trump pal Steve Wynn for a private event.
The news station notes that the presidential festivities were far less than previous inaugurations, but the amount of money spent was record-breaking “with more than $107 million raised and $104 million spent, double the amounts of President Barack Obama’s first inaugural.”
“These inaugural committees, if there’s not good transparency and disclosure, can turn into slush funds,” Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, who has served on the House Oversight Committee, told ABC News. “That’s why you need to have requirements that they disclose what the spending is, where it’s coming from, put some limits on the kind of spending that’s appropriate, so that it’s really going towards inaugural needs, and not other purposes.”
Now that Democrats run the House, the American people can surely expect to look into the way money was raised and spent.
“It’s all the more reason why there has to be sunshine on both ends who is actually donating to the committees and how this spending is going to be done,” House Oversight Committee member Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), told ABC News.
This isn’t the first time that questions have been raised as to how money was spent during the current president’s inauguration. “Tax filings disclosed the five largest vendors included payments of nearly $26 million to an event planning firm run by a one-time adviser and close friend of Melania Trump.”
Also from ABC News:
The adviser, Stephanie Winston-Wolkoff, created a company called WIS Media Partners based in California that handled some of the festivities. That firm paid out contracts to other sub-contractors that were hired and used some of the funds to hire sub-contractors. Winston-Wolkoff was also paid $1.62 million directly for her work, ABC News has previously reported. ABC News has left messages for Winston-Wolkoff’s attorney.
Internal financial documents reviewed by ABC News on Monday show spending that was not required to be included on public tax filings. Those records outline in granular detail how money was, in some instances, directed to pay Trump’s political advisers. That included nearly $2.7 million to the company of Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who handled digital operations for the inaugural. A separate company, Fortalice Solutions LLC, which specializes in cyber protection, was paid $450,000. The inaugural committee shelled out $130,000 to Tiffany & Company, which a source confirmed was to provide guests with salad bowls.
The documents also show sizeable amounts spent on the travel and feeding of dozens of friends and aides in the days leading up to the inauguration. According to the filings, for example, the committee paid $25,000 to reimburse hotel expenses for longtime Trump pal, real estate executive Howard Lorber. A breakdown of Melania Trump’s friend, Winston-Wolkoff’s company expenses shows thousands of dollars spent on dining, lodging and travel including $24 in Uber rides to “pick up exec meds,” and $13 to “drop off Jon’s laundry,” a reference to a Winston-Wolkoff aide. Her company’s expenditures also included a $12.72 Uber reimbursement for a ride ordered for Hollywood producer Mark Burnett, creator of “The Apprentice,” the show that launched Trump into reality TV stardom.
It was noted that Trump International Hotel was used as a primary meeting spot, but until now, there had been no reports on how much money was spent to use the facility. One couple working for Winston-Wolkoff reportedly submitted $1,835 worth of room service charges during their three-day stay.
“Substantial spending by the inaugural committee at the Trump Hotel would raise issues of impermissible self-dealing by the committee,” Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer in Washington told ABC News.
At this point, I think the American public would have an easier time looking at the areas of the Trump administration that aren’t being questioned.