Washington, Dec 21: President-elect Donald Trump's transition team on Wednesday denied a report that his sons were seeking donations of up to USD 1 million in exchange for possible post-inauguration access.
The Center for Public Integrity, an award-winning group that addresses ethics and other policy issues, said a non-profit foundation was set up last Wednesday making discreet potential pay-for-play possible. According to the CPI report, the "Opening Day Foundation" was planning to hold a fundraising event on January 21, the day after the inauguration and Trump's first full day in the White House.
The report said major donors would receive: a "private reception and photo opportunity for 16 guests with President Donald J Trump," a "multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion for 4 guests with Donald Trump Jr. and/or Eric Trump," "autographed guitars by an Opening Day 2017 performer," and other goodies.
"Unlike political committees, such non-profits aren't required by law to reveal their donors, allowing sponsors to write seven-figure checks for access to the president while staying anonymous, if they choose," the CPI report warned.
The foundation's directors are Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Dallas investor Gentry Beach and Tom Hicks Jr., a Dallas billionaire's son, the report said, posting a copy of the legal documents certifying the formation of group. The funds would be donated to unnamed "conservation charities," according to a copy of a brochure for the event obtained by TMZ.com.
"Opening Day is your opportunity to play a significant role as our family commemorates the inauguration of our father, friend and President Donald J Trump," the brochure said. Trump's transition team issued a statement denying that the president-elect's sons were behind the event.
"Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump are avid outdoorsmen and supporters of conservation efforts, which align with the goals of this event, however they are not involved in any capacity," Trump transition spokeswoman Hope Hicks said. "The Opening Day event and details that have been reported are merely initial concepts that have not been approved or pursued by the Trump family," she said -- without mentioning the sons' registered roles in the filed paperwork.
Larry Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center pro-reform group, voiced dismay. "This is Donald Trump and the Trump family using a brand new organisation to raise USD 1 million contributions for a vague goal of giving money to conservation charities, which seems a way of basically just selling influence and selling the ability to meet with the president," he was quoted as saying in the CPI report.