Trump to seek big donations for inauguration

A US Coast Guard boat passing the Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach where Mr Trump spent Thanksgiving on Wednesday. The President-elect plans to further relax funding rules for the inauguration festivities.
A US Coast Guard boat passing the Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach where Mr Trump spent Thanksgiving on Wednesday. The President-elect plans to further relax funding rules for the inauguration festivities.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Move complicates pledge to prevent special interests from influencing his government

WASHINGTON • US President-elect Donald Trump will allow corporations and wealthy individuals to make large donations to fund the activities surrounding his inauguration, complicating his promise to eliminate special interests from influencing his government.

Mr Trump plans to ban money from registered lobbyists, whom he has purged from his transition team and barred from working for his administration.

But the restrictions will be lighter on corporations and individuals - the groups that have traditionally provided a vast majority of funding for the festivities surrounding the transfer of power. The looser restrictions, which members of the Presidential Inaugural Committee said have yet to be finalised, represent a continued march back from standards set in 2009, when then President-elect Barack Obama banned gifts from lobbyists, political action committees and corporations, and put a cap of US$50,000 (S$71,600) on individuals.

Mr Obama relaxed his own rules in 2012, after what was then the most expensive presidential campaign in history had depleted his donor base, lifting the ban on corporate gifts and restrictions on the size of those from individuals.

Mr Trump, who like Mr Obama campaigned on reducing the influence of money in politics, appears poised to relax them further.

Officials planning the inauguration said Mr Trump would solicit corporate donations of up to US$1 million and allow money to be transferred from political action committees on a case-by-case basis. The inaugural committee has not reached a decision on where to cap gifts from individuals, if at all.

All told, Mr Trump hopes to raise US$65 million to US$75 million to fund the parade, balls and other festivities surrounding his swearing- in as president, according to several people involved in the planning.

Such a total, if it materialises, would easily surpass the US$43 million Mr Obama's team raised for his 2013 inauguration and the US$53 million, a record, that it raised for his first inauguration in 2009.

Mr Thomas Barrack Jr, a private equity investor who is heading the committee responsible for planning the events surrounding Mr Trump's inauguration on Jan 20, said the decision to limit donations from certain groups was "in line with the President-elect's thoughts on ethics reform".

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2016, with the headline 'Trump to seek big donations for inauguration'. Print Edition | Subscribe