The initial invitation from Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump dangled a rare opportunity for donors willing to pony up $500,000 and more: a private reception with the new president the day after his inauguration and a hunting or fishing excursion with one of the brothers.

“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,” read the draft obtained by TMZ.

But days after the details about the high-dollar Jan. 21 “camouflage & cufflinks”-themed fundraiser leaked, a spokeswoman for the president-elect said Tuesday that neither he nor his adult sons were involved in plans for the event. And the organizers of the function – who include friends of the Trump brothers – dialed back offers of access to the new president and his sons.

The confusion over the family’s connection to the fundraiser showed the degree to which Trump has failed to set rules that would protect his family from allegations of influence-peddling or clear lines between himself and the interests of his children, who will take over management of his business empire, watchdog groups said.

UNBUILT FIREWALL

“This is an obvious and ongoing problem that this president will face until he creates a true firewall,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch.

The initial outlines for the “Opening Day 45” event seemed to take advantage of the still-blurred lines by allowing donors to buy time with the new president while offering little information about what charity would reap the proceeds. The conservation foundation named Tuesday as the event’s beneficiary told The Washington Post that it is still considering whether to participate.

It is also unclear to what degree the details of the high-priced fundraiser – and its aggressive use of the Trump name – was a surprise to the Trump family. While Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said the Trump sons were not involved “in any capacity,” organizers of the event said the two brothers took part in discussions about the fundraiser, for which they are still honorary co-chairmen.

In fact, their names are prominently listed as the main hosts of the event on a website that went live Tuesday. And the Eventbrite page to purchase tickets names the brothers as “organizer.”

The Jan. 21 function was the brainchild of two Dallas friends of the Trump sons, hedge-fund manager Gentry Beach and private-equity investor Tom Hicks Jr. All are avid hunters.

“One of the important things for Don Jr. and Eric is conservation, and we wanted to help them organize a party to celebrate conservation,” Hicks said in an interview. “After the president-elect won, we got focused on this. Don Jr. and Gentry have been spearheading it.”

Beach, who was a top fundraiser for Trump’s campaign, is serving as a finance vice chair of his presidential inaugural committee.

REVISED INVITATION

The event is set to be held at the end of Trump’s first full day as president at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the District of Columbia and promises entertainment by Toby Keith and Alabama.

Elaine Schock, a publicist for Keith, confirmed that he has agreed to play at the event, but said she did not know who is paying him.

An early version of the invitation promised donors who gave $500,000 or more a “private reception and photo opportunity” with “President Donald J. Trump” and a “multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion” with Donald Trump Jr. or Eric Trump.

However, those perks were not included in a final version of the invitation released Tuesday and posted on the event website. Instead, top donors are offered a private reception with “VIPs and celebrities associated with the event” and “a multi-day outdoor excursion.”

Mark Brinkerhoff, a spokesman for the event, said he could not confirm whether the new president would attend but that Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump were expected to be there.

The fundraiser is being put on by the Opening Day Foundation, a new nonprofit entity that was incorporated in Texas on Dec. 14, as the Center for Public Integrity first reported.

State corporate filings list Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump as directors of the group, along with Beach and Tom Hicks.

But transition officials said the Trump sons were listed on the document without their permission and have asked the Texas secretary of state to remove their names.

Brinkerhoff confirmed that they should not have been named as directors of the Opening Day Foundation. He said that the paperwork filed last week was “not the official filing” and that new documents would be submitted shortly. Still, he said the Trump brothers were “supportive” of the foundation and its goals.

The Jan. 21 event is the kickoff fundraiser for the Opening Day Foundation, which is in the process of seeking recognition by the Internal Revenue Service to operate as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, Brinkerhoff said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.