Those Leftover Trump Inauguration Funds Promised to Charities? We've Now Got the Rundown

They said that money would go to charity, but in the year since President Trump’s inauguration, nobody really knew what happened to the remainder of the whopping $107 million inauguration fund.

Our Patterico questioned the whereabouts of those funds on Monday of this week.

Well, Patty-cakes, we have an answer.

And not much of it really went to charity (as if we couldn’t have guessed as much).

According to a recent New York Times report, a few million did make it to a charitable organization or two, but the bulk went elsewhere.

The chairman of the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee was longtime Trump pal, Thomas J. Barrack, Jr. Barrack assured us that the remainder of the funds would be carefully doled out to charities.

What required IRS filings showed was a lot of money spent on administrative expenses surrounding putting together events for wealthy Trump supporters and donors.

No small donation redcappers allowed.

By contrast, the return showed that the group’s charitable donations included only a previously publicized $3 million for hurricane relief, as well as a total of $1.75 million to groups involved in decorating and maintaining the White House and the vice president’s residence, and $250,000 for the Smithsonian Institution.

The grand portion – $57 million – went to four different event planning companies.

An even split?

Not quite. The bulk of that went to a pal of Melania Trump’s.

The company that received the biggest payment — $26 million — was WIS Media Partners of Marina del Rey, Calif. Records show that the firm was created in December 2016, about six weeks before the inauguration, and its founder, according to a person familiar with the firm, was Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a longtime friend of Mrs. Trump’s. Otherwise there is very little information available about the company.

Wait – the company was only 6 weeks old and immediately warranted that much money? Even if you’re not outraged that the money promised to charity was given to celebrate Trump’s rich friends, this has to be a bit much.

Ms. Winston Wolkoff made her name planning Manhattan society galas. An associate of the Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Ms. Winston Wolkoff traveled in the same circles as Mrs. Trump, who attended Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s 40th birthday party in 2010. Ms. Winston Wolkoff has subsequently been brought on as a senior adviser to the first lady’s official government office.

OH, well that’s special.

Wolkoff is apparently a name-dropper, often invoking the First Lady’s name, while making whatever plans she made for the after-inauguration festivities.

Mr. Barrack praised Ms. Winston Wolkoff, saying she “executed her duties well.”

But Craig Holman, an official with the government watchdog group Public Citizen, which had called on the inaugural committee to release more details about its finances sooner, described the payments to Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm and other expenditures as “fiscal mismanagement at its worst.”

Much of the money paid to Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm and other event production companies was probably passed through to other vendors that provided goods or services on a subcontractor basis.

Yeah, but she wasn’t the only event planner involved. She’s just the one that got an exorbitant amount of cash from a fund that was supposed to go to charity.

Also reaping payments for event production services was Hargrove Inc., of Lanham, Md., a company that plans trade shows and other events, which was paid $25 million. David Monn of New York, who also is known for orchestrating society events and planned a state dinner for former President Barack Obama, was paid $3.7 million, which the operative said was primarily to plan two events, one of which was billed as a “candlelight dinner” attended by Mr. and Mrs. Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence.

What are they eating that cost nearly $4 million? That’s a lot of Big Macs, Mr. President.

The committee spent heavily on administrative expenses, including $9.4 million on travel, $500,000 on legal fees, $237,000 on fund-raising and $4.6 million on salaries and benefits for its 208 employees. That included $100,000 paid to Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign aide, who has since been indicted on a host of charges by the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to the operative who worked with the inaugural committee.

Rick Gates? I hope that money is enough to pay off his attorney fees.

By October, the inaugural committee had paid off most of the costs associated with rewarding Trump’s rich friends, and had $2.8 million left in the bank. They’re promising that as soon as they pay off the remaining expenses, they’ll be donating what’s left to charity, as promised.

Wow.

The committee pointed out that what they’ve already donated to six nonprofits, for a total of $5 million is more than former President Obama’s inaugural committee gave.

It might be because you guys had raised so much more.

Maybe.

So who got the $5 million?

The White House Historical Foundation got $1 million.

The Vice President’s Residence Foundation (They pay for redecorating and keeping up the home of the VP) got $700,000. That should cover some new drapes.

Three groups involved in the hurricane relief efforts got $1 million, each. Those would be the Salvation Army (worthy of much more), the American Red Cross, and Samaritan’s Purse (Hello, Franklin Graham).

Barrack had boasted, when questioned last summer, about the amount of funds that would be handed out to the various charities and nonprofit foundations, insisting that it would exceed any previous administration’s after-inaugural giving.

Ugh.

The inaugural committee split the costs of staging a range of festivities with the taxpayer-funded Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and various federal, state and local government agencies. Security costs alone were predicted to surpass $100 million, which will eventually be paid for by the federal government.

“…paid for by the American taxpayers.”

There ya go. I fixed it for you.

Of those Trump supporters making big government great again, donor Sheldon Adelson gave $5 million.

Companies like Chevron, Boeing, and AT&T also donated.

You know, we should be used to liars and gross largess in politics, by now, but our ability to be outraged really seems to be dependent on our partisan politics.

In other words, I don’t expect Trump’s devotees to condemn this.