About those inauguration donations

About those inauguration donations

by digby

We knew that a bunch of Russian oligarchs inexplicably attended the Trump inauguration and that the Special Counsel was looking into possible illegal contributions. (In August a man named Sam Patten pleaded guilty to illegally funneling money from a Ukrainian client.)

But even aside from any Russian or other foreign shenanigans, the sheer number of donations were astonishing and nobody knows where all the money went. Now, according to the Wall street journal, prosecutors are investigating whether the committee misspent funds in exchange for access, based upon information obtained from Michael Cohen:

President Donald Trump's 2017 inaugural committee is currently being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York for possible financial abuses related to the more than $100 million in donations raised for the event, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Citing conversations with people familiar with the investigation, which is being handled by the US Attorney's office in Manhattan, the Journal reported that prosecutors are also looking into whether the committee accepted donations from individuals looking to gain influence or access to the new administration.

The paper notes that "giving money in exchange for political favors" is illegal, as is a misuse of any donated funds. The committee was registered as a nonprofit.

According to the Journal, sources told the paper that the investigation "partly arises out of materials seized in the federal probe of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's business dealings."

This one has been a long time coming. It's been fishy from the get. And there's no way to excuse it as the dotard not thinking he was going to win so he decided to make as much money as he could running for president. If this happened, it was blatant corruption as the president-elect of the United States.

By the way, The Inaugural Committee was chaired by Mike Pence. Also:

The 2017 Presidential Inaugural Committee organized several other inauguration-related events at the direction of the President‑elect and Vice President‑elect of the United States, such as the concerts, parade, balls and prayer service. The chairman of the committee was Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a real estate investor and longtime Trump friend and ally, and the founder of Colony Capital. The co-chairs of the committee were Lewis M. Eisenberg and Roy Bailey. Committee members included casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Miriam Adelson, Steve Wynn and Phil Ruffin, oil entrepreneur Harold Hamm, businesswoman Diane Hendricks, coal businessman Joe Craft, Gail Icahn, wife of Carl Icahn, and Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets. The committee reported raising over $100 million for the inauguration from donors.
Update: Rick Gates ran the Inaugural fund. The AP reported in the summer:

Donald Trump’s inaugural committee pushed back hard last summer on questions about whether the unprecedented $107 million budget for the event was fraught with cost overruns and misspending. A top inauguration official assured The Associated Press that spending had been restrained and monitored.

In court last week, that same official — Rick Gates — acknowledged that he personally may have pocketed some of the inaugural committee’s money.

Gates, the government’s star witness in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s financial fraud trial, admitted to Manafort’s lawyers that he “possibly” wrongfully submitted personal expenses to the inaugural committee for reimbursement.

Though only a footnote to Gates’ disclosure of tax fraud, extramarital affairs and embezzlement from Manafort, the admission raised new questions about how well the inaugural committee tracked its own spending and why Gates was chosen for a top inauguration job in the first place.

Some of his former campaign colleagues expressed surprise to the AP when he was selected for a top inauguration job given questions about his past work with Manafort — and existing accusations inside the Trump campaign that Gates tried to misspend campaign funds.

In November of 2017, two campaign sources told the AP that Gates had unsuccessfully attempted to transfer $5 million to a TV advertising vendor for commercials that the campaign had never approved. The incident, which occurred in the spring of 2016, was later featured in former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s score-settling memoir of the campaign, “Let Trump be Trump.”

Separately, White House general counsel Don McGahn, who was Trump’s campaign counsel, also pressed Gates to explain how the campaign spent $730,000 on an obscure and recently created direct mail firm, Left Hand Enterprises. Much of that money, records obtained by the AP show, was used to send campaign mailers to voters in safe Republican states — after Trump had already clinched his primary victory.

McGahn told the AP in October 2016 that he had no reason to doubt the money had been spent on mailers. He did not respond to emails requesting comment last week.

They are ALL a bunch of crooks. Every last one.