WASHINGTON — A presidential inauguration may have all the pomp and pageantry of a Hollywood movie, but who would have thought it costs as much as some of the biggest blockbusters.
It's not clear what the actual total is, but it's estimated that hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on the ceremony once every four years.
What is clear are the two groups who foot the bill - donors and taxpayers.
Public funds are used for the actual swearing-in ceremony. According to a 2013 report by the Congressional Research Service, that includes security, maintenance, construction, bleachers, and fencing. The biggest share comes from security.
In 2009, the District of Columbia reportedly spent an estimated $42.98 million on "inauguration-related law enforcement, first responders, transportation, and communication," for President Obama's inauguration, the Congressional Research Service says. The cost of the swearing-in ceremony itself costs roughly $1 million, according to the Washington Post.
Everything surrounding the swearing-in ceremony is funded by big private donors through the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC). Events like the National Day of Service, parades, concerts, and galas are all handled by the committee.
President Trump's 2017 inaugural committee was able to raise an unprecedented $107 million from donors. However, the use of those funds has been under investigation. A lawsuit filed by the District of Columbia's attorney general accuses the president's committee of misusing its nonprofit funds to enrich Trump's family by hosting inaugural events at a Trump hotel for above-market rates.
Trump's donations were double what previous presidents had accepted. President Obama's first inauguration committee in 2009 raised roughly $54 million, which was a record at the time. In 2013, the committee accepted just over $44 million.
Obama's donations are more in line with what previous inaugurations have accepted. George W. Bush was able to raise $30 million for his 2001 inauguration and $42.3 million in 2005 for his second inauguration. Bill Clinton raised between $25 to $30 million in 1993 and $29 million in 1997. Reagan's committee drew in $16.3 million in 1981 and $20 million in 1985.
President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration committee is accepting donations, but with a majority of events taking place virtually due to COVID-19, it's not clear how much will be accepted.
Among some of the biggest names donating to Biden's are giant tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Amazon.
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