President-elect Donald Trump is raising money for celebrations centered around his inauguration. As part of his fundraising efforts, Trump is offering personal face time as a reward for million-dollar donations.
Any donors forking over a cool million (or more) will be given exclusive access to Donald himself during the weekend of of the inauguration. The centerpiece is an invitation to a “candlelight dinner” with Donald, Melania, Mike Pence and Karen Pence. It’s unclear exactly how much time the luminaries will be spending at the table, though. They are billed as making “special appearances.” Maybe they just walk by and tousle your hair playfully.
Million-dollar donors will also get access to a lunch where they will eat “with select Cabinet appointees and House and Senate leadership.” As well as an “intimate dinner” with just the Pences, and a lunch with “the ladies of the first families.” And after filling up on food, they will go to the inaugural ball and spend the night at “Premier Inaugural Hotel(s).”
The message is clear – elites are more than welcome to shore up their alliance with the Trump administration. Despite his campaign rhetoric, Trump is going out of his way to court lobbyist involvement. He even appears to be grooming Steven Mnuchin, an ex-Goldman Sachs top dog, to be treasury secretary.
The fundraiser is organized by The Presidential Inaugural Committee. According to its communications director Boris Epshteyn, “The Presidential Inaugural Committee is a 501(c)4 organization that is non-political, offering an opportunity for every American to participate in the democratic process of our country. The Inaugural events are, to a large extent, privately funded so as to not use taxpayer dollars. For the 58th Presidential Inaugural, any and all funds raised above amounts needed to fund the Inaugural events will be donated to charitable organizations.”
And according to the PIC, no donations from active, registered lobbyists will be accepted.
But flirting with billionaires is an inaugural institution. Obama’s second inauguration saw a similar reward incentive offered to his financiers – his top donor package cost $250,000 for individuals and a million for corporations. And donors enjoyed similar perks, being invited to an inaugural ball, VIP access to a candlelight inauguration celebration and other similar chances at privileged access. Trump’s donor program is just a more robust version of same.
If he wants to outdo his predecessor’s last inauguration fundraiser, Trump will have to raise more than $44 million. Any contributors who donate $200 or more to the committee are legally required to be reported to the Federal Election Commission within ninety days of the inauguration.