Representatives for President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee still won’t say what the committee did—or plans to do—with the tens of millions of dollars it pledged to charity last year. And it may be many more months until the public finally knows.
The committee smashed the record for inauguration fundraising, bringing in about $107 million, double the sum raised for Barack Obama’s first inauguration, which held the previous record. But Trump’s inaugural committee only spent about half of that money. The rest, it said, would go to philanthropic ends.
More than a year later, no one knows what those ends will be.
A spokesperson for Tom Barrack, Trump’s personal friend and the chairman of the committee, told The Daily Beast on Dec. 8 that it would be filing an annual report detailing its charitable giving with the Internal Revenue Service “in the next several weeks.” It is now Feb. 12, and it still hasn’t done so and there is no indication of when it will.
The committee doesn’t have to wait for a 990 filing to say where it directed leftover funds, noted Brendan Fischer, the director of federal and FEC reform programs at the Campaign Legal Center, an ethics group. “Even if the inaugural committee does need more time to file its 990, there is nothing stopping it from voluntarily disclosing how it spent the leftover funds, and whether any money went to charity,” he said in an email.
“Tom Barrack said the inaugural committee would disclose charitable contributions in Fall,” Fischer added, “then pushed the deadline back to November, and now here we are in February and the public still has no idea how the inaugural committee spent $107 million.”
The committee hasn’t operated entirely in the dark. In September, Barrack announced that the committee would donate $3 million to three charities involved in hurricane relief efforts. That pledge came after The Daily Beast inquired about the potential use of inaugural committee funds to support such efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.