Barack Obama set a record in 2009: He raised an unprecedented $53 million to support his inauguration. That money came from thousands of contributorsnationwide. Donations were capped at $50,000 — considered a high amount at the time — and, in the tradition of past inaugurations, included millions of dollars from various special interest groups.
For all the money Obama raised, Donald Trump‘s inauguration was something entirely different. With a fraction of the donors Obama had, Trump hauled in $107 million for his inauguration, according to a disclosure released this week. There was no limit on how much individuals and groups could contribute to the inauguration. Trump drew $5 million from billionaire casino owner and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson— the largest single inauguration donation ever. According to the Center for Public Integrity, others who gave at least $1 million include a coal baron, Wall Street investors and fast-food CEOs. Three major health insurance companies each contributed $100,000.
Energy interests contributed more than $8 million to the inauguration, USA Today found. Trump has, of course, rolled back dozens of Obama-era environmental regulations. Kelcy Warren, the billionaire behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, which Trump pushed through, gave him $250,000. Exxon Mobil contributed $500,000 the week after Trump announced Rex Tillerson as his pick for secretary of state. (Exxon just applied for a waiver to drill for oil in Russia, despite U.S. sanctions there.)
Compare that to Trump’s campaign message. Largely running with his own money and support from small-dollar donors, Trump promised supporters he could not be persuaded by wealthy conservatives and rich special interests. Yet in his first 100 days, he has appointed a bevy of former lobbyists and corporate consultants to key positions across Washington, the New York Times found. Those individuals with deep-pocketed backgrounds in Washington now work on legislation they used to lobby around — raising ethical concerns across policy areas. And giving access to people who could afford it was the plan all along. Back in November, the Center for Public Integrity first reported Trump’s inaugural team was selling access to the president in exchange for huge sums of money.
Obama allowed contributions of up to $1 million in 2013 from corporations. Trump capped contributions from corporations at $1 million and did not accept contributions from registered lobbyists. It was removing the limit on individual contributions that yielded a record-breaking haul for Trump.
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