Despite a cap that limited donations to a maximum of $500,000 apiece, Obama’s committee raised a record-breaking $53 million in 2009. There were no such caps limiting the Trump team.
Las Vegas business magnate Sheldon Adelson contributed $5 million, according to a Federal Election Commission report, along with $250,000 coming from Pepsi, Ford, UPS and Google; $750,000 from Quicken Loans; and $500,000 coming from both Citgo Petroleum and Microsoft.
Politico reported that the single largest corporate donation came from AT&T at $2.1 million. The publication pointed out that many donors to Trump’s inaugural had "issues" with the previous government or have business interests before the new one, highlighting that the telecom giant is still awaiting the green light from Washington on its merger with Time Warner.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied any impropriety during a briefing on Wednesday, saying, "This is a time-honored tradition … I think a lot of Americans and companies and entities are proud to support the inaugural, and I think that you've seen that over time. There are a lot of people who really take pride in helping us show the world a peaceful transformation of power." Spicer noted that other administrations had taken part in similar "nonpartisan activities."
Qualcomm and Pfizer, executives from GoDaddy and Cantor Fitzgerald, Bank of America and the owners of several professional football teams contributed as well.
Private equity real estate investor Tom Barrack served as chairman of the committee, and said in a statement Tuesday, "The amount of funds raised for the inaugural celebration allowed the president to give the American people, those both at home and visiting Washington, a chance to experience the incredible moment in our democracy where we witness the peaceful transition of power, a cornerstone of American democracy."
There were more than 20 events held in connection with the sparsely attended inauguration, though the inaugural committee is not required to report how it spent the funds. They haven’t made public how much of the money is left, as they are still trying to identify charities to redirect remaining funds.