Following up on a presidential commitment, the White House announced yesterday that Donald and Melania Trump have made "a personal donation of $1 million dollars to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and have designated twelve organizations to receive contributions." Among the 12 beneficiaries are charitable groups created by TV preacher Pat Robertson and Christian evangelist Franklin Graham.
But this led The Daily Beast to ask a good question: whatever happened to all that money from Trump's inaugural committee, which was also supposed to go to charity?
Trump's inauguration committee has millions of dollars on hand that it did not spend on ceremonies in January, according to Tom Barrack, a friend of the president's who leads the inaugural committee. The committee has said since January that that money will be given to charity, a pledge that Barrack reiterated to The Daily Beast. But even as some internally press for the unspent funds to go toward hurricane relief efforts, Barrack is signaling that donations may not be made for months.
As regular readers may recall, Trump's inaugural committee was a fundraising juggernaut, eliminating caps on individual contributions -- caps that George W. Bush and Barack Obama both utilized -- and selling "exclusive access" for seven-figure contributions.
But because Trump's inauguration was not well attended, and there weren't that many events, much of the money raised went unspent. We don't know with any specificity exactly what was left over because the president's inaugural committee has not disclosed how the money was used or where the excess funds may end up.
The committee said it'd release the details of its charitable donations in April, but that didn't happen. Instead, the committee said in April that it was still "identifying charities toward which it would direct leftover money."
That was five months ago. Apparently it's taking longer than expected.
Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign hand, told The Daily Beast the inaugural committee will close its books in November. Watch this space.