Trump inaugural committee paid millions to event planning company run by friend of first lady: report

Trump inaugural committee paid millions to event planning company run by friend of first lady: report
© Greg Nash

The inaugural committee for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Pentagon investigator probing whether acting chief boosted former employer Boeing Trump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral MORE paid nearly $26 million to a company started by a friend of first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump steps up attacks on McCain White House announces spring garden tour dates Trump heard sermon on calling out hate speech at St. Patrick's day church service MORE, according to recent tax filings.

The New York Times reported Thursday that the tax filings reveal the inaugural committee spent more than $50 million to just two companies, one of which is an event planning firm owned by Melania Trump’s adviser, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

Winston Wolkoff, who a spokesman for the first lady said is not paid for her work as a senior adviser, was personally paid $1.62 million from the inauguration committee, an official told the Times.

A spokeswoman for Trump told the Times that the first lady was not involved with the inaugural committee.

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The committee raised a record $107 million for inauguration festivities, largely from corporations and wealthy donors, nearly twice as much as the $55 million raised by former President Obama’s committee.

Tom Barrack, chairman of the committee, had pledged to donate whatever was left to charity, but as of last month had not yet revealed where the surplus money would be spent. The tax filings revealed that the committee’s charitable donation totaled just $5 million, less than expected, which included a $3 million donation to hurricane relief that was reported in September.

The committee donated $1 million each to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Samaritan’s Purse. It also gave to organizations dedicated to the preservation and furnishing of the White House and vice president’s residence — the White House Historical Association received $1 million and the Vice President’s Residence Foundation received $750,000. The committee also donated $250,000 to the Smithsonian Institution.

The committee’s expenses primarily went to event planning for the more than 20 events surrounding Trump’s inauguration. A company that plans trade shows was paid $25 million, and two other event planners were paid $3.7 million and $2.7 million, respectively, according to the filings.

The committee also spent $4.6 million on salaries and benefits for committee employees, $9.4 million on travel expenses and $500,000 on legal fees.