Throwback Thursday: U.S. Spent $15.5 Million on Extravagant Inauguration
In 1985, the Presidential Inaugural Committee spent $15.5 million – worth almost $44 million in 2023 dollars – on extravagant services and events for VIPs at the 1985 Presidential Inauguration, but only reimbursed taxpayers for about 4% of the cost.
Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, awarded the Presidential Inaugural Committee his Golden Fleece Award for this extravagant expenditure.
According to Proxmire, most of the money went towards providing VIPs with luxurious arrangements, including 8,400 Department of Defense professionals that served as chauffeurs, personal aides, and ushers to top dignitaries. For example, First Family members and the VP’s party were assigned 23 military aides, while Governors received 56 aides, and other special guests had 71 aides.
Joining this army of aides were 270 coordinators that were essentially party planners. They were tasked with making luxurious arrangements for the special ceremonies. They were needed to plan nine inaugural balls, along with a gala. There were also commemoratives items sold below cost, with the government losing a total of $98,000 on these items.
A review later found that, “a significant amount of DOD’s support was again provided without proper legal authority.” This led Proxmire to suggest that Congress should pass a law to clarify what types of support were legal, as well as suggest that the private beneficiaries of these exclusive activities should be responsible for funding them.
Taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for luxurious galas, personal drivers, and party planners for these types of events. Forcing the recipients of these benefits to pay for them might help curb the ever-expanding list of extravagant events associated with a presidential inauguration.
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This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.