Energy companies gave millions for Trump's inaugural

WASHINGTON - President Trump, who has moved quickly to sweep aside environmental regulations he says curtail U.S. energy production, took in more than $8 million from energy interests to help underwrite his Jan. 20 inauguration, according to a USA TODAY analysis of a newly filed inaugural report.

Energy companies and executives donating to Trump’s inaugural committee include Exxon Mobil, which contributed $500,000 in January and Clifford Forrest, the founder of Pennsylvania-based coal-mining company, Rosebud Mining. Forrest donated $1 million last December.

Trump made slashing the Obama administration’s environmental rules and advancing American energy independence a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign. As president, he has followed through. Last month, he signed an executive order that seeks to roll back Obama-era policies that limited power-plant emissions and coal mining on federal lands.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday that companies and individuals gave to the inaugural committee out of civic pride.

“Funding the inaugural committee is pretty much a non-partisan activity that has gone back every administration,” Spicer said. “I think a lot of Americans and companies and entities are proud to support the inaugural.”

Trump’s committee raised a record $106.7 million from private sources to fund six days of events surrounding his Jan. 20 swearing-in. That’s more than twice the $53 million President Barack Obama raised for his first inauguration in 2009, the previous record.

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President Trump's inaugural committee raked in record $106.7 million

Additional $1 million contributors from the energy sector include a trust tied to billionaire coal operator Joseph Craft and John Hess, the chief executive of the Hess Corp., an oil and gas exploration and production company.

Energy interests spend big sums to influence policy on Washington on everything from Environment Protection Agency rules to trade policy. Lobbying by energy and mining interests exceeded $280 million last year, according to a tally by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks lobbying activity.

On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that Exxon has asked the U.S. Treasury Department to give the company a waiver from U.S. sanctions against Russia to allow the company to resume drilling operations with the Russian-owned oil company, Rosneft.

Exxon officials did not immediately respond to an interview request about the donation.

The 510-page report Trump’s committee filed with the Federal Election Commission shows dozens of companies and individuals writing seven-figure checks to back support Trump — many with policy issues pending before the Trump administration. Telecom giant AT&T, which is awaiting a Justice Department review of its proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner, donated $2.08 million to the inaugural committee, records show.

One of the largest checks came from one of Trump’s earliest financial benefactors: Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who contributed $5 million. Adelson enjoyed a prime seat at Trump's swearing-in ceremony and an invite to Congress' official luncheon following the event.

Billionaire hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer, who threw his support behind Trump in the general election, also donated $1 million, records show.

Several NFL team owners stepped up to write $1 million checks to Trump's committee. They included Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a longtime Trump friend who was visiting the White House on Wednesday with his Super Bowl-winning team.

Trump’s inaugural committee hand-delivered a paper version of its report Tuesday to the Federal Election Commission, and it was not available for public review until Wednesday.

Federal rules allow inaugural committees to file the reports electronically. Obama’s committees filed electronic versions of its reports.

Committees are not required to disclose how they spend their contributions. Officials with Trump’s committee said they will donate still-to-be-determined leftover funds to charities that will announced at a later date.

Contributing: Ray Locker and Ledyard King

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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