Today, June 14th is Donald Trump’s birthday (a fact he had been announcing at ainublic events this week) and we thought we’d remind you there is no need to send Crooked Donald any presents as he has already paid himself millions through his charities.
In case you missed it, Trump charities are back in the news again and not in a good way—actually, there hasn’t been any good news about Trump family charities in the last two years.
This latest scandal involves an investigation by Forbes involving Trump self-dealing and his son Eric’s foundation. The investigation revealed that over a decade ago, Eric Trump established his own foundation to provide millions in pediatric cancer research at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, among other beneficiaries. Eric’s plan was for an annual golf tournament at his father’s golf course in Westchester, NY to support his foundation—that would cover all the expenses so more could go to charity. And for a few years, Eric Trump did exactly that and for a few years his foundation raised millions for the hospital without incident.
But then Crooked Donald found out his son was giving away services at his golf course for free and he didn’t like that one bit.
According to Forbes reporter Dan Alexander, at first Daddy Trump demanded more documentation of just how much his National Golf Club was donating to the event, which was not unreasonable, but over a few years, Trump pushed Eric’s friends, who were donating their time, of the board of his own foundation and replaced them with Daddy Trump’s friends and business associates who started collecting fees and demanding the Eric Trump Foundation make payments to Trump businesses—except most of those payments were not properly documented and possibly illegal under charity “self-dealing” laws.
In the end, Daddy Trump and his friends culled $1.2 million from Eric’s charity in payments to Trump businesses, including a $500,000 transfer from St. Jude’s Hospital that went to other Donald Trump charities that paid expenses for other fundraisers that the National Golf Club.
Before we continue, it is important to remember that no matter how much self-dealing went on, the bulk of the $16 million Eric raised went to charity. That said, the $1.2 million that was used to the Trump Organization is not only a stain, but likely illegal, so much so the New York Attorney General is investigating.
Worse, Daddy Donald’s interfering in his son’s foundation marred one of the few bright spots for the family following the devastating (and Pulitzer Prize winning) reporting by Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold. The reporter had previously written how Eric Trump’s charity had been following the rules, only to discover there were $1.2 million in potential self-dealing to the Trump Organization.
Thanks to Fahrenthold’s reporting, we discovered how Crooked Donald virtually never followed through on any promised donations and more often than not, used his charities to buy things he wanted.
The most notorious example of this was how Trump used $20,000 of his charity’s money to purchase a stunningly ugly six-foot painting of himself to decorate his Mar-a-Lago golf club. But there was worse: Trump used his charity to make an illegal $25,000 political contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi while she was “investigating” financial irregularities at at the now-defunct Trump University, as well Trump paying his personal or business fines and legal fees instead of charities in clear violation of self-dealing rules. Fahrenthold’s work forced Trump to pay fines and settle up with the IRS. Trump himself said he never did anything wrong—even the the Bondi donation, he said, was a mistake.
During the campaign, Fahrenthold reported Trump refused for months to make millions in promised donations from his charity to veterans groups, including a personal $1 million donation. When Trump called Fahrenthold to tell him he had just made his personal donation (in fact, he hadn’t, the money was delayed several more days), the reporter asked the obvious question: would Trump have even given the money if Fahrenthold hadn’t revealed his broken promises? Trump snarled back that the reporter was a “nasty, nasty guy.” Then, when Trump did make good, he held a press conference and demanded Fahrenthold thank him for being charitable (he didn’t.)
Fahrenthold’s coverage offered amazing detail of how Trump used charity for his own self-promotion and never for the public good. A telling incident occurred in 1996, when Trump crashed a children’s AIDS event by showing up, pushing his way to the podium, where he participated in the entire event—even though Trump hadn’t given a penny to charity, nor would he ever make a donation, but he was happy to let the media think he was a major donor.
In an interview, Fahrenthold mused that had actually made all the donations he promised and done all the work he claimed, it would have made a tremendous difference to tens of thousands and might have changed the public perception of Trump. To that, we can only say, “If wishes were horses…”
Of course, Trump and his family disputes Fahrenthold’s well-documented reportage that proves the family refuses to engage in charity unless it somehow benefits them. At one point, Trump spokespeople claimed Fahrenthold missed many millions in donations. And Fahrenthold admits he doesn’t have the whole story and the only way to get that is for Trump to release his tax returns, which would offer absolute proof of how much Trump and his family actually donate.
The request that Trump release those returns to prove he is generous has been met with silence.