Trump’s inauguration team paid $26 million to firm owned by first lady’s friend
Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The organization tasked with putting on President Donald Trump’s inauguration last year paid nearly $26 million to an event planning firm run by an adviser and close friend of Melania Trump, according to tax filings made public Thursday.
The adviser, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, created a company, WIS Media Partners based in California that handled some of the festivities throughout the days leading up to the president’s inauguration.
The firm, as described by a source with knowledge of Winston-Wolkoff’s dealings, paid out contracts to other sub-contractors that were hired, used some of the funds to hire sub-contractors. But Winston-Wolkoff was paid $1.62 million directly for her work, according to the source.
Winston-Wolkoff has not responded to an inquiry from ABC News. She is currently a member of the first lady’s staff.
The news of the filing was first reported by the New York Times.
“Mrs. Trump had no involvement with the PIC, and had no knowledge of how funds were spent,” said the first lady’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham in a statement to ABC News. The first lady’s office went on to describe Winston-Wolkoff as a “special government employee with the Office of the First Lady. She volunteers her time and receives no salary for her efforts.”
According to the filing, the other top payouts went to an event production organization for $25 million, a ticketing agency tasked with creating all the tickets and invitations for the festivities that was just shy of $4 million and another nearly $4 million payment to David Monn an event planner based in New York. A source with direct knowledge said Monn was recommended to the committee by Winston-Wolkoff but was paid directly, not part of her much larger payment.
The leadership of any Presidential Inauguration Committee can hire any organization at their own discretion.
Other top payouts went to a second event production organization, which was paid $25 million, a ticketing agency received $4 million to design and print the tickets and invitations for the festivities, and nearly $4 million payment to David Monn, a third event planner based in New York, according to the charitable tax filing, known as a Form 990.
Reached by phone, a representative for David Monn LLC declined immediate comment.
The tax filing is the first time since last year’s event that there is a clearer picture of how the $107 million raised was spent for the inauguration. The inauguration committee was led by the president’s longtime friend Thomas Barrack, who the president, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge, recently approached to see if he would be inclined to be his next Chief of Staff.
Barrack has said he would not take that job, according to sources.
Barrack was not paid as part of his role overseeing the inaugural festivities.
As part of their tax filing Thursday, the Inauguration Committee also released details of how it donated $5 million to other organizations.
The break down includes:
The American Red Cross (Hurricane Relief Efforts) $1,000,000
Samaritan’s Purse (Hurricane Relief Efforts) $1,000,000
The Salvation Army (Hurricane Relief Efforts) $1,000,000
Smithsonian Institution $250,000
The White House Historical Association $1,000,000
Vice President’s Residence Foundation $750,000
Some of these donations were already announced publicly in the wake of the multiple
hurricanes last year. As part of their statement, the Inaugural Committee says they have a remaining $2.7 million which would be used for any final payments and whatever is eventually left over will also be donated to charity.
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