The National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in funds that are supposed to go toward improving parks to help pay for President Trump’s expanded July 4 celebration, The Washington Post reports.
The Trump administration repeatedly refused to say how much taxpayers will have to pony up for Trump’s event, which is expected to include a speech from the president, tanks, and plenty of rich Republican donors who got VIP tickets from the White House.
At least $2.5 million of the money for the event will come from National Park Service entrance and recreation fees but the fees are just a fraction of the cost of the event, which will also feature flyovers by military jets and fireworks.
Former NPS deputy director Denis Galvin told The Post that the typical July 4 celebration costs about $2 million.
“This is a breach of trust with the public,” Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, told the outlet. “The public pays parks fees to fix national parks and for educational programs, not the president’s parade.”
Trump giving VIP tickets to wealthy donors:
Trump is essentially turning the July 4 celebration into a political rally, according to a HuffPost report that revealed the White House is giving VIP tickets to Trump’s speech to Republican donors and political appointees.
The Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign confirmed to The Post that they received passes from the White House that they are giving out for the event.
“We’ve never seen anything like this,” New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall told the outlet. “No ticketed political event should be paid for with taxpayer dollars.”
A spokeswoman for Minnesota Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum, who heads the subcommittee overseeing the budget for the Interior Department, vowed to “get a full accounting of the taxpayer costs incurred by this event.”
Trump insists cost not high:
Trump tweeted in response to the reports that the cost of his parade will be “very little” because the US owns the tanks and planes that will be used in the parade.
“The cost of our great Salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth,” he wrote. “We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice!”
"And if this becomes a campaign speech, that spending could violate the law," the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington replied.