WASHINGTON — Some of Georgia’s top corporations and quite a few private citizens ponied up at least $2.39 million for President Donald Trump’s inaugural festivities in January.
More than two-dozen companies and individuals from the state helped Trump raise $107 million for 20 inaugural events, shattering the fundraising record set by President Barack Obama in 2009, according to new federal filings released this week.
Georgia contributions ranged from the small, including $200 from a Doraville accountant, to half a million dollars each from title-lending magnate Roderick Aycox and his wife Leslie.
Many of the state’s Fortune 500 companies also pitched in, sending hundreds of thousands of dollars for six days of celebrations surrounding the Jan. 20 inauguration, which included a free concert at the Lincoln Memorial and three inaugural balls.
UPS gave $250,000 and Coca-Cola earmarked $300,000, while Aflac and Southern Company Services each ponied up $100,000.
Most giant corporations tend to steer clear of partisan politics so they don’t alienate their customers, but inaugurations are typically viewed in a different light. That’s raised the ire of good government activists, who worry about corporate cronyism when big donors with business before Washington get to so openly hobnob with incoming federal officials.
The public picked up the tab for the event’s security and the swearing-in ceremony, as is customary, but Trump’s inaugural team had initially planned to raise $75 million in private dollars for the inaugural parties and galas. It incentivized corporations and wealthy supporters to donate by offering benefits such as a private luncheon with Trump’s top advisers and Cabinet appointees.
“The amount of funds raised for the inaugural celebration allowed the President to give the American people, those both at home and visiting Washington, a chance to experience the incredible moment in our democracy where we witness the peaceful transition of power, a cornerstone of American democracy,” Tom Barrack, the chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, said in a statement.
Barrack said the group will donate the remaining money to charity, but didn’t say how much was left over.
By comparison, Obama raised $53 million for his then-record-setting inauguration in 2009. He had banned donations from corporations and political action committees at the time, but changed his mind in 2012.
Georgia corporations that donated to Obama’s inaugural in 2012 included Coca-Cola, which contributed $430,000; Southern Co., which chipped in $100,000; and Aflac, which gave $50,000.
Read more here about how Georgia companies approached Trump’s inauguration.