It was unclear what each ticket cost, as one official said the $60,000 total tab included catering and security. Public ticket prices before the event ranged from about $100 to nearly $700.
The “UFC 244: New York City” event — which ended prematurely because of a cut on a fighter’s face — included the “Baddest Mother----er” award. Trump was seen posing backstage with the “BMF” belt before the event, a smile across his face. Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, has long been friends with the president.
Members of the House are allowed to take free tickets for sporting events if the event is a “bona fide” fundraiser, according to House ethics rules. The event was not an official fundraiser nor a campaign event, so it is unclear how the lawmakers could accept tickets. Members also have to receive written approval to take a gift. The official said the RNC paid because the president attended.
King, Meadows and a spokesman for McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment. McCarthy posted a picture on Instagram riding on Marine One over New York City with Trump and Meadows. His spokesman has previously said he will follow all ethics rules.
The president was cheered and booed at the fight when he waved to the arena. The president could be seen standing and looking on after a fighter was knocked out with a left kick to the face. When he finally was revived and appeared to be all right, the president could be seen clapping. He left Madison Square Garden around 1 a.m.
A week earlier, the RNC had paid $465 per seat in a luxury suite at Nationals Park for Trump, 11 members of Congress and senior White House staffers to attend the fifth game of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros.
The RNC also previously paid for the president to attend the college football national championship game in Atlanta.