Trump raised $149.6 million for inauguration, doubling Obama's record

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walking in the Inaugural Parade on Jan 20, 2017, in Washington, DC.
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walking in the Inaugural Parade on Jan 20, 2017, in Washington, DC.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - US President Donald Trump raised twice as much money for his inauguration festivities as any previous president-elect in history, pulling in tens of millions of dollars from wealthy donors and large corporations eager to woo the nation's new chief executive in the days after his unexpected victory.

Disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday showed the contributions from corporate executives, lobbyists and businesses, as well as small donors, totalled US$107 million (S$149.6 million). The previous record was held by President Barack Obama, who raised US$53 million for his 2009 inauguration.

Trump's inaugural committee is not required to report how it spent the money on his inauguration festivities, which included more than 20 events and drew modest crowds in January.

In a statement on Tuesday, the committee said it was still identifying charities toward which it would direct leftover money, though it did not detail how much was left.

The disclosures were delivered to the commission by hand on Tuesday and had not yet been made public online.

The report is likely to only intensify questions about Trump's commitment to the populist ideas raised in recent weeks by several policy shifts and realignments among White House staff.

Inaugural committees face few of the regulations that limit campaigns in what they can raise and how they can go about raising it. In practice, that has left it up to each administration to determine its own restrictions.

President George W. Bush, for example, capped gifts at US$100,000 in 2001 and at US$250,000 in 2005.

Obama accepted gifts only up to US$50,000 in 2009, while banning gifts from lobbyists and corporations altogether. He loosened those restrictions in 2013 after a bruising campaign, accepting corporate gifts up to US$1 million and individual gifts up to US$250,000.

Trump appears to have set comparatively few limits for his inauguration. His team said it would not accept donations from registered federal lobbyists nor would it solicit corporate gifts over US$1 million. But it did not put a cap on what it would take from individuals.

Donor packages for the festivities ranged from US$25,000 to US$1 million or more for both individuals and corporations. Depending on the level of contribution, donors gained access to a slate of private events with Trump and his inner circle, as well as special seating for his swearing in and other public events.

For Trump, the fast pace of fundraising appears to have continued past Inauguration Day. His re-election campaign, which was incorporated the same day he took the oath of office, reported last week that it had raised US$7.1 million during the first three months of this year.