WASHINGTON - Tennessee companies or individuals gave more than $2.2 million to help underwrite President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, newly released records show.
Memphis-based FedEx donated $500,000 to the inauguration effort, even though the company’s founder and chief executive officer, Fred Smith, has been critical of Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and of Trump’s hard line stance on China.
Gov. Bill Haslam refused to vote for Trump during the November election, but his family nevertheless contributed to Trump’s inaugural.
The Haslam-owned Pilot Travel Centers of Knoxville donated $300,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee. Jimmy Haslam, the governor’s brother and CEO of the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain, gave $100,000. Jimmy Haslam’s wife, television executive Susan “Dee” Haslam, also donated $100,000.
Corrections Corporation of America, the embattled private prison operator now known as CoreCivic, gave $250,000 to Trump’s inaugural. The Nashville-based company stands to benefit from Trump’s decision in February to roll back a rule enacted under then-President Barack Obama that was intended to phase out the federal government’s use of private prisons.
Core Civic operates 85 facilities nationwide, eight of which are in Tennessee. Among those is the newest, largest state prison, the quarter-billion-dollar Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Trousdale County.
The largest Tennessee donation to Trump’s inauguration came from HFNWA LLC of Chattanooga, which donated $1 million.
The company is one of several big-dollar donors that are obscure limited liability corporations about which little is known.
The Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based nonprofit, has reported that HFNWA LLC has addresses in Arkansas and Washington, D.C., and is managed, according to Arkansas Secretary of State records, by Franklin L. Haney, a Democratic political patron and real estate mogul. The company gave $1 million to the Democratic super PAC Senate Majority PAC in 2014.
Overall, Trump’s inaugural 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 Obama raised for his first inauguration in 2009, the previous record.
The donations are detailed in a 510-page report Trump’s committee filed with the Federal Election Commission earlier this week.
Reach Michael Collins at 703-854-8927, at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @mcollinsNEWS.
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