First lady Melania Trump has reportedly severed ties with adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff after news broke that Wolkoff’s company was paid millions of dollars by President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee.
Wolkoff, a longtime friend of the first lady’s, had been working for her office on a contract basis as an unpaid senior adviser. The New York Times reported Monday that the first lady’s office had decided to sever this contract — a dismissal purportedly triggered by “displeasure from the Trumps” over news that Wolkoff’s company had been paid almost $26 million to plan events for the presidential inauguration last year. A spokeswoman for Melania Trump said the first lady had “no involvement with the inaugural committee” and did not know how the funds were spent.
Wolkoff’s hefty payout, reported by the Times earlier this month, was listed in tax filings recently released by the president’s inauguration committee. The documents revealed that the committee paid more than $57 million to four event-planning companies and donated a less-than-expected $5 million to charity.
Wolkoff’s company, which was incorporated just six weeks before the inauguration, received the lion’s share of the funds (exactly $25,843,509, according to CNN). Wolkoff personally received $1.62 million, and a close friend and associate, David Monn, was paid almost $4 million to help plan events, reported the Times.
Trump’s inauguration was considered the most expensive ever, according to Money magazine. Obama’s 2009 inauguration was estimated to cost $170 million, or $190 million today after factoring in inflation. Trump’s was estimated to have topped $200 million.
A White House official told Politico earlier this month that the millions Wolkoff and her firm received had “really raised eyebrows.”
“That’s a whole lot of money, especially when a bunch of that could have been donated to charity,” the official said.
Wolkoff told the Times this week that, despite the dismissal, she still expected to “remain a trusted source for advice” for the first lady and to provide “support on an informal basis.”