President Trump, who has moved quickly to sweep aside environmental regulations he says curtail US energy production, took in more than $8 million from energy interests to help underwrite his January 20 inauguration, according to a USA TODAY analysis of a newly filed inaugural report. The amount about doubled the record set by President Barack Obama eight years ago.
AT&T was among the largest contributors to President Trump's inaugural committee, accounting for more than $2 million of the record-breaking $106.7 million haul.
The largest donor was GOP mega donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who gave $5 million.
Casino mogul Steve Wynn donated entertainers and production work valued at $729,000 for the Chairman's Ball, where the band Alabama and Wynn's ShowStoppers performed, according to Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver.
Other $1 million donors to the former owner of the New Jersey Generals of the defunct United States Football League included: Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, Texas owner Robert McNair, Madison Square Garden, owner of the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty, also contributed $1 million.
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"Really, there's very limited rules on how an inaugural committee has to spend the money, much less report how they spend the money", said Brendan Fischer, director of the federal and FEC legal program at the Campaign Legal Center. Other seven-digit donors included the owners of four National Football League teams: Bob McNair of the Houston Texans, Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dan Snyder of the Washington Redskins and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots, who visit the White House on Wednesday to recognize their Super Bowl victory this year. Much of that money was distributed in May 2016, after The Washington Post pressed him about whether he had followed through on his promise.
The inauguration offered donors who had held back during the presidential campaign a chance to show belated support for the incoming president.
Billionaire investor Paul Singer, for example, gave $1 million after long expressing skepticism about Trump.
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.
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Trump placed no restrictions on the amount of money donors could give.
Obama accepted gifts only up to US$50,000 in 2009, while banning gifts from lobbyists and corporations altogether. Their release promised more details about charitable giving at a later date, "when the organization's books are fully closed".
After raising about US$55 million in 2009, Obama used excess funds to help pay for the White House Easter egg roll and other events. He lifted those caps in 2013, when he raised about $43 million for a lower-key event.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal, owned by Adelson, became the first major newspaper to endorse Trump for president in 2016.
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