Many stories (such as this one
) about the Clinton Foundation mislead readers into presuming that it is a family slush fund. In fact, it is a charity -- one of the world's most efficient, effective and transparent. No-one in the family profits from donations. This Foundation has received a clean bill of health from Charity Watch and other watchdog organizations.
(Incidentally, this piece
offers an excellent response to the current flurry of propaganda.)
Some of you may not know that Donald Trump has his own foundation. What does Charity Watch say about the Trump Foundation? Very little
; they do not rate it because it is private. In other words, this organization is as transparent as concrete.
On his website, Trump claims that he is raising money for veterans. Presumably, this goal is why Marvel Comics CEO Ike Perlmutter made a million-dollar donation
. The money raised by online appeals goes directly to the Trump Foundation, not to any non-private group known for helping vets.
But do veterans or other good causes get the money? From the Federalist
Trump’s personal non-profit foundation, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, does not have a history of donating much money to veterans or to veterans’ causes. According to a recent analysis of the organization’s spending history by the Weekly Standard, Trump’s non-profit donated more money to the Clinton Foundation than it did to veterans causes.
Between 2009 and 2013, Trump’s non-profit donated between $100,001 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Over the same period of time, Trump’s group gave only $57,000 to veterans groups. A 2015 analysis by Forbes noted that barely 1 percent of the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s $5.5 million worth of donations betwen 2009 and 2013 went to organizations that support military veterans
From Business Insider
Trump's foundation began in 1987 and exists to donate money to other charities.
It has no staff, and its annual IRS filings have regularly listed Trump's average time spent on it as "minimal" or zero hours a week. The foundation has given out $3.6 million between 2011 and 2013, the most recent year in which its finances are available.
The overwhelming majority of its recent gifts have been made with other people's money.
NBC Universal, World Wrestling Entertainment and high-end, sporting and entertainment event ticket-reseller Richard Ebers are among the largest donors; Trump made his last significant donation, of $30,000, in 2008.
From the Daily Beast
, April 22 of this year:
Three months ago Donald Trump held a fundraiser for wounded veterans and apparently raised $6 million. But most of that money has yet to be distributed and Trump’s chairman for veterans issues couldn’t care less.
Donald Trump has claimed that he has given $102 million in charity in the past five years, but -- according to the Washington Post
-- none of that money was actually his.
In addition, many of the gifts on the list came from the charity that bears his name, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which didn’t receive a personal check from Trump from 2009 through 2014, according to the most recent public tax filings. Its work is largely funded by others, although Trump decides where the gifts go.
On The Apprentice
-- especially after 2012 -- Donald Trump frequently burnished his image with charitable donations. He would say that the money came from his own wallet -- but it didn't. The money came from the Trump Foundation, to which has not donated since 2009. The money came from NBC
, either directly or laundered through the Trump Foundation. Also see here
On-air, Trump seemed to be explicit that this wasn’t TV fakery: The money he was giving was his own. “Out of my wallet,” Trump said in one case. “Out of my own account,” he said in another.
But, when the cameras were off, the payments came from other people’s money.
In some cases, as with Kardashian, Trump’s “personal” promise was paid off by a production company. Other times, it was paid off by a nonprofit that Trump controls, whose coffers are largely filled with other donors’ money.
The Washington Post tracked all the “personal” gifts that Trump promised on the show — during 83 episodes and seven seasons — but could not confirm a single case in which Trump actually sent a gift from his own pocket.
Although the Foundation is not supposed to be involved in political work, it gave $100,000 to Citizens United, the group behind that case that led to the proliferation of Super PACs. Nevertheless, Trump has oftne denounced PACs on the campaign trail.
That mingling of politics and charity seems to be a pattern
. Also see the Daily Beast, here
The Daily Beast reported in June that the foundation has been operating essentially as a political slush fund, and that it has been coordinating with the campaign in a way that likely violates both IRS and Federal Election Commission regulations.
Monday’s legal action was prompted in part by the presentation of checks to veterans charities that were paid by the foundation, which had Trump’s campaign logo and its signature slogan—“Make America Great Again”—imprinted on them.
In 2013, the foundation failed to report an illegal $25,000 donation to a political group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, chalking it up to a simple clerical error. At the time, Bondi was reviewing legal complaints regarding the defunct Trump University.
"Clerical error." Riiiiiight
. Are we to presume that Trump is so hard up that he couldn't even pay a goddamned bribe with his own money?
From a Vanity Fair
Promising money and then not following through isn’t new for Trump. Between 1987 and 1991, the Post found that the Trump Foundation only ever gave $137,000 of the $1.9 million that was pledged to causes such as AIDS research, veterans, and homeless organizations—about 7 percent of what was promised. The remaining 93 percent went to groups that the Post characterized as “society galas, his high school, his college, a foundation for indigent real estate brokers.” A ballet school Ivanka Trump attended received $16,750, while Eric Trump's private high school received $40,000—“more than the homeless, AIDS and multiple sclerosis contributions combined.”
It’s unclear where all the money Trump has said he would donate actually goes. Earlier this month, Buzzfeed reported that the fees Trump received for consulting and public events did not appear to have been dispersed. In one instance in 1988, he charged boxer Mike Tyson $2 million to be an adviser for Tyson’s business ventures. “Anything I make from this position will go to charities fighting AIDS, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and helping the homeless,” he said at the time, promising to donate it to his foundation. That money never appeared in the Trump Foundation’s records.
Perhaps the best article on the Foundation appeared in the Huffington Post:
Donors give money to the foundation; the billionaire scratches their backs and uses their money to burnish his ego and, more recently, his political reputation.
Initially, the charitable foundation gave mostly to nonpolitical causes. But since 2010, when Trump began considering a run for president as a Republican, his foundation has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to conservative political groups, including the Citizens United Foundation, the Iowa-based Family Leader Foundation and Liberty Central, the advocacy group led by Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The Trump Foundation, which was founded in 1987, received more than $12 million in contributions from 2001 to 2014, the years for which federal tax records are publicly available. Trump provided less than a quarter of that -- and since 2008, he hasn't given the Trump Foundation a dime.
Instead, the foundation's money has come from people and companies that do business with Trump or want something from him. In 2006, People magazine gave the foundation $150,000. Trump gave the magazine exclusive photos of his newborn son, Barron, in April of that year. NBC Universal gave the foundation $10,000 in 2007 and another $500,000 in 2012. Trump's popular reality shows "The Apprentice" and "The Celebrity Apprentice" aired on NBC from 2004 to 2015. And in 2011, Comedy Central gave the foundation $400,000 as an appearance fee for the billionaire's participation in The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump.
One large donor is a "high-end scalper" named Richard Ebers. It's rather amusing to contemplate the quid-pro-quos that may underlie these displays of generosity.
So where does the money go? This headline
may offer a clue...
Trump Bought $120,000 Luxury Trip With Trump Foundation Money At 2008 Charity Auction
Trump himself didn’t go on the trip, an aide told BuzzFeed News, but said that she did not know what became of the auction prize. Asked if it had been given to someone else, she reiterated that she didn’t know.
Tax experts contacted by BuzzFeed News said that even if Trump gave the trip to a family member or friend, Trump would have had to report the trip on his foundation’s IRS tax forms. Those forms, however do not report any such transactions. IRS rules require nonprofits to report any “self-dealing” — using their money to furnish their executives with money or other benefits. The Trump Foundation tax forms, called 990s, do not report any such transactions for that year.
In 2012, Trump used $12,000 worth of Foundation money to buy a football helmet signed by Tim Tebow, a purchase made at a charity gala.
If Donald Trump had wanted to, he could have created a real
charity -- something like the Clinton Foundation. But he didn't. The Trump Foundation is opaque -- a covert operation, if you will. We have little reason to believe that funds donated to this organization actually go to people in need.
And what will happen to the Foundation if Trump becomes president?
Trump has said that his campaign has been self-funding. Have any of those funds come from the Foundation? How would we even know?