When Donald J. Trump strides onto the inaugural ballroom floor this week amid the sprawling celebration of his swearing-in, he will have corporate America and many of its titans to thank for the rapturous greeting, The New York Times reports.
Chevron, the oil giant, has given $500,000 for the daylong festivities. Boeing, which has been a target of Trump, pledged $1 million. And Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, giants of the gambling industry, are said to have donated more than that by themselves.
They are far from alone.
All told, the group planning the inaugural festivities says it has raised more than $100 million, which would be nearly double the record for an inauguration, with much of it coming in six- and seven-figure checks from America’s corporate suites.
In exchange, Trump’s most prolific donors will gain access to what amounts to a parallel inauguration week, carefully planned and largely out of public sight, during which they can mingle with members of the incoming administration over intimate meals and witness Trump’s ascension from the front rows.
No matter which party controls the White House, corporations and wealthy individuals open their checkbooks every four years, and administrations reward their donors with private events and other incentives.
But ethics experts say Trump’s donors are being given greater access and facing fewer limits on donations than those in other recent inaugurations, despite his vow to “drain the swamp” of special interests in Washington.
“This is nothing short of selling access to the president, the vice president and the cabinet,” says Craig Holman, a registered lobbyist for Public Citizen, a nonpartisan ethics group in Washington. “This is very unfettered, brazen selling of access. It certainly runs counter to any presidential candidate who was talking about draining the swamp.”
The New York Times has the full story.