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New York Times: Trump inaugural committee spending dwarfed money raised for Bush, Obama inaugurations

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President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee spent around $100 million on the President’s 2017 inauguration for an abundance of expenses, including more than $1.5 million at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, The New York Times reported Monday, citing interviews and documents related to the event’s planning.

According to the Times, the committee paid out “roughly twice as much or more than was raised” for former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush’s first and second inaugurations. Federal investigators in New York are currently probing the source of the record-setting $107 million it raised from donors.

The paper reported that the committee spent $10,000 for makeup for 20 aides at one of the inaugural events, as well as $30,000 in per diem payments to contracted staffers who traveled to Washington to help organize the inauguration, “in addition to their fully covered hotel rooms, room service orders, plane tickets and taxi rides.” Trump’s Washington hotel, according to the Times, was paid more than $1.5 million for a range of expenses, including “the use of a ballroom, an ‘annex’ and a space called the townhouse.”

According to the Times, “roughly $5 million went to charity, which organizers have noted is the most ever for an inaugural committee.”

Emmett S. Beliveau, chief executive of Obama’s first inaugural committee, told the Times the spending on Trump’s inauguration seemed “astronomical,” and Greg Jenkins, the executive director of Bush’s second inaugural, told the paper the spending “blows me away.”

In a statement to the Times, Thomas Barrack Jr., Trump’s inagural committee chairman, said the committee “complied with all laws and regulations, and its finances were fully audited internally and independently. The donors were fully vetted and disclosed to the Federal Election Commission as required.”

The Times also reported that Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former aide to first lady Melania Trump who also helped oversee much of the event’s planning, initially signed a $1.6 million contract with the committee. Winston Wolkoff, along with a colleague, formed WIS Media Partners, which served as a “kind of general contractor and (oversaw) a series of events.” According to the paper, the firm received nearly $26 million from the committee, a great deal of which was paid to various vendors.

A lawyer for Winston Wolkoff declined to provide the Times a comment for the story.

A spokesman for WIS Media Partners told the Times that the firm’s charges “were vetted, authorized and signed off on” by top officials on the inaugural committee and that the fees the firm charged were “significantly below” charges “for equivalent productions.”

The Times also said that the firm worked on and then ultimately abandoned plans to produce a documentary for the event that included interviews with top inaugural committee officials.

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