Grifter-in-Chief Donald Trump has been treating the federal budget as it were his own private slush fund.
Since his first day in the Oval Office, it’s been his modus operandi. He treated the Donald J. Trump Foundation the same way, advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charities it pretended to support. Everyone knows that now.
Well, like father, like son. According to Forbes magazine, son-of-a-Trump Eric has been using his own self-named foundation to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for sick kids into revenue for the Trump Organization.
Each September for the past 10 years, Eric’s foundation has sponsored a golf invitational. It’s held at the family-run Trump National Westchester. A charity event weekend like no other, including Hooters waitresses and cigar spreads, the invitation is held for family, friends, real estate insiders and C-list celebrities to raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Eric has been touting the efficiency of the charity for years. He claims he gets to use daddy’s golf course for free and since most of the other costs are donated, it means virtually all the money contributed will go toward helping kids with cancer.
Nice try selling that story.
Apparently the family that grifts together, shifts together. And Eric has been shifting these charity donations into the family’s business account for years.
In the Forbes investigative piece that appears in the June 29th issue, reporter Dan Alexander exposes the Trump grift. The investigation begins when costs for Eric’s tournament suddenly jumped from $46,000 to $142,000 back in 2011.
“In the early years, they weren’t being billed [for the club]–the bills would just disappear,” says Ian Gillule, who served as membership and marketing director at Trump National Westchester during two stints from 2006 to 2015. Gillule then said he witnessed how Donald Trump reacted to the tournament’s economics: “Mr. Trump had a cow. He flipped. He was like, ‘We’re donating all of this stuff, and there’s no paper trail? No credit?’ And he went nuts. He said, ‘I don’t care if it’s my son or not–everybody gets billed.'”
As Alexander reports:
It’s become clear that the course wasn’t free; the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.
Although donors were told their money would help St. Jude’s sick children, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.
All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors. It also raises larger questions about the Trump family dynamics and whether Eric and his brother, Don Jr., can be truly independent of their father.
Especially since the person who specifically commanded that the for-profit Trump Organization start billing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the nonprofit Eric Trump Foundation, according to two people directly involved, was none other than the current president of the United States, Donald Trump.
So what happened to all the charity money Eric says he’s raised?
Evidently, hundreds of thousands of dollars over this period went directly to the Trump Organization. That included one payment of $87,000 to Trump’s golf course in Washington, D.C., which hosted a separate event for St. Jude.
It’s worth noting that four of the seven original board members of the Eric Trump Foundation (all friends of Eric) were replaced by 14 new board members. The majority owed all or much of their livelihoods to the Trump Organization, according to the magazine.
As Alexander writes,
Six of them were effectively full-time employees, including Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and executive vice president Dan Scavino Jr., who both serve in political roles for President Trump. Another owns a company that billed the Trump campaign $16 million.
The foundation had become a de facto subsidiary of the Trump Organization.
So where does Trump business end and charity begin? I think we all now know the answer to that question: It doesn’t.
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