Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto has introduced legislation aimed at bringing greater transparency to how presidential inaugural committees raise and spend the money for presidential inaugurations, The Hill reported.
In a January 18 press release, Cortez Masto said safeguards were needed to “ensure the American people know who is donating to inaugural committees and how that money is being spent.”
The Inaugural Committee Transparency Act would increase public disclosure of donations and boost federal oversight on how the money is spent by inaugural committees.
In her statement, the Nevada Democrat explained that the bill would close loopholes to prevent the misuse of committee funds while ensuring that an inaugural committee could not be used as a pretext for “pay-to-play” politics or “vehicles for corruption.”
Cortez Masto first raised the alarm on misuse of inauguration funds in 2019 following a December 2018 Wall Street Journal report that federal prosecutors in Manhattan were investigating Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, which raised $107 million, for misspending and pay-to-play.
The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York was investigating whether some of the top donors to Trump’s inaugural committee received in exchange access to the Trump administration to influence policy positions.
Inaugural committees, unlike presidential campaigns, do not have limits on individual donations and can accept unlimited contributions from anyone, including corporations.
Under Cortez Masto’s legislation, an inaugural committee would be required to disclose the names and addresses of every donor giving $200 or more to the Federal Election Commission. The committee would also be required to itemize the purpose of every payment.
Under the bill, donations on behalf of someone else would be prohibited. It would also be illegal to spend donated money on personal use. The bill would also require the funds remaining after the inauguration to be donated to a charity within 90 days of the January 20 inauguration date.