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Donald Trump raises millions to cover inauguration's steep costs

A record 90 million US dollars (£73 million) has been raised in private donations for Donald Trump's inauguration.

The amount raised by Mr Trump's Presidential Inaugural Committee is far more than that collected by President Barack Obama's two inaugural committees.

They rais ed 55 million dollars (£45 million) in 2009 and 43 million dollars (£35 million) in 2013, and had some left over on the first occasion.

But while Mr Trump has raised more money for his inauguration than any president in history, he is aiming to do less with it.

Lead inaugural planner Tom Barrack said this week that the Trump team wants to avoid a "circus-like atmosphere" in favour of a more "back to work" mindset that surrounds Mr Trump "with the soft sensuality of the place".

Mr Trump's committee has declined to provide details on how it is aiming to spend its hefty sum.

Steve Kerrigan, chief executive for Mr Obama's inaugural committee in 2013 and chief of staff in 2009, said the 90 million dollar fundraising haul looks like overkill.

"I can't imagine how they are going to spend that amount of money - and why they would even keep raising money," he said.

"We planned the two largest inaugurations in the history of our country and we never spent anywhere near that."

Mr Trump this week promised a "very, very elegant day" with "massive crowds".

They will arrive to find a party that is not nearly as involved as Mr Obama's.

The president-elect is holding three inaugural balls; Mr Obama had 10 balls at his first inaugural.

Mr Trump's team also hopes to keep its parade to 90 minutes.

The longest parade, with 73 bands and 59 floats, lasted more than four-and-a-half hours at Dwight Eisenhower's first inauguration in 1953.

The president-elect's inaugural team has also failed to attract the kind of A-list performers who turned out in force for Mr Obama.

Mr Trump has announced that headliners are teen singer Jackie Evancho, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Radio City Rockettes.

Spokesman Boris Epshteyn said the inaugural committee is "fully focused on organising world-class events that honour our nation's tremendous history and reach every corner of the globe".

Any excess money raised will be donated to charity.

Mr Obama used his excess inaugural dollars to help pay for the White House Easter egg roll and other events in his first term, Mr Kerrigan said.

Mr Trump has not specified which charities might benefit from any leftovers, but some of his past pledges to donate to charity have not always immediately panned out.

Mr Trump's committee has 90 days after the inauguration to reveal its donors, although some presidents have reported donations as they came in.

A few contributors are already known. Among corporate donors, Boeing has given one million dollars and Chevron 500,000 dollars.

AT&T said it has made both cash and in-kind donations, including quintupling phone capacity on the National Mall.

Alex Howard, deputy director of the private Sunlight Foundation, said the Trump inaugural committee is a "major vector for corporations and individuals who wish to make donations and have influence on the presidency".

He said the big donations and the lack of speedy disclosure "set a tone" that has implications for the transparency and accountability of the new president.

The inaugural line-up of balls, parade, reviewing stands, concert, dinners, bleachers and all the rest does not come cheap.

John Liipfert, who helped produce the Obama inaugurals, said big outdoor events in winter are particularly expensive, requiring robust sound and video systems, warming tents, fencing, barricades, security screeners and much more.

As for the balls, halls must be rented, stages built, lighting systems constructed and draperies and floral arrangements brought in to dress up the decor.

"You'd be amazed," he said. "There are a million factors going into it."

And do not forget all those portable toilets. There were 1,100 along the parade route in 2013.

While a big share of the cost is covered by the private donations, taxpayers provide a considerable amount as well.

They are on the hook, for example, to cover the close to five million dollar cost of building the bunting-decorated 10,000 square-foot platform built on the West Front of the Capitol for the swearing-in.

The public also pays security costs for an event that brings together a big chunk of the US political leadership, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans and a fair share of protesters.

Because those expenses are scattered throughout the federal budget, it is hard to know just how much the day will cost.

Some bills are spelled out: 1.25 million dollars for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, which is responsible for the swearing-in ceremony, inaugural luncheon and review of troops, and 2.5 million dollars for overtime for the US Capitol Police.

More than 5,000 active duty service members and 7,500 National Guard members will take part, too.

In 2009, spending by the military's inaugural joint task force and the Defence Department totalled 21.6 million dollars.

District of Columbia mayor Muriel Bowser said the city expects to spend at least 30 million dollars, with the federal government reimbursing the full amount.

So far, Congress has appropriated 19 million dollars, and the city will go back to Congress after the swearing-in to ask for the rest.



From Belfast Telegraph