President Donald Trump's inauguration committee raised an astonishing $107 million for the day Trump would take office, and the committee's chairman, Thomas J. Barrack Jr. - a longtime friend of the president - promised to be prudent with the monies and donate leftovers to charity.
The New York Times reports that Barrack did not do well in keeping his promise - the vast majority of funds went to planning the inauguration, and a hefty sum went to a friend of Melania Trump specifically.
[T]he mandatory tax return it filed with the Internal Revenue Service indicates that the group’s charitable donations included only an already publicized $3 million for hurricane relief, plus a total of $1.75 million to groups involved in decorating and maintaining the White House and the vice president’s residence.
$51 million of the budget was split nearly evenly between two companies - one owned by a friend of Melania and the other was Hargrove, Inc., of Lanham, Md., a company that plans trade shows and events.
One of the companies, WIS Media Partners of Marina del Rey, California, was created by a longtime friend of Mrs. Trump, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, according to a person familiar with the firm. Records show that the firm was created in December 2016, but otherwise there is very little information available about it.
According to the first lady's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, Melania “had no involvement” with the inaugural committee, “and had no knowledge of how funds were spent.”
Ms. Winston Wolkoff is not paid for her work in the first lady’s office, according to Ms. Grisham, who said Ms. Winston Wolkoff is classified as “a special government employee.”
Ms. Winston Wolkoff personally received $1.62 million for her work, according to one official from the inaugural committee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the details publicly. The official said that Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm paid the team used by Mark Burnett, the creator of “The Apprentice,” whose involvement in the inaugural festivities was requested by Mr. Trump.