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“Donald Trump Is No Philanthropist”: Again And Again, Trump Lied About How Much He Gave To Charity

Don’t be fooled: Donald Trump is no philanthropist.

Although the real estate tycoon-cum-presidential candidate has boasted about his charitable efforts, a Washington Post investigation published Tuesday found that, over a 15-year period, Trump donated less than a third of the $8.5 million he pledged to give in that time.

From 2001 until his recent (and highly-publicized) donation to a veterans’ families group in May, Trump only contributed $2.8 million through a foundation created to manage his philanthropy. (His most recent proven donation to the foundation was in 2008.)

When BuzzFeed inquired about his donations, a spokeswoman for the campaign said that Trump’s charitable giving is “generous and frequent,” insisting that these donations are made privately and that “there’s no way for you to know or understand what those gifts are or when they are made.”

In fact, there is — but the campaign refuse to put out any documents that would support the claim that he donates privately. This set of files includes his tax returns, which he has repeatedly pledged to release.

So the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold painstakingly contacted over 160 charities with supposed connections to Trump, tracking progress on Twitter as he went along. As it turns out, only one of these groups, the Police Athletic League of New York, confirmed that it had received money from the candidate — a single donation of under $10,000 in 2009.

Fahrenthold also found that not-so noble causes like Trump’s daughter’s ballet school often received much larger sums than the causes he frequently name-dropped. For instance, though the Republican candidate has repeatedly spoken about donating profits from books and other ventures to fight homelessness, AIDS and multiple sclerosis, his son’s private school got more than all of those causes combined.

Stories like these are anything but rare. The BuzzFeed report notes that there is no proof that Trump followed through on promises to donate his profits from a Comedy Central special, a New Zealand lottery, and even a property rental to the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

In other cases, such as a lawsuit he won against the city of Palm Beach, or the sale of his vodka line,  the candidate donated significantly less than he pledged to initially, going from as much as a few million pledged to a few hundred dollars in actual donations.

Trump’s failure to give to charity also points to the likelihood that his ventures are less profitable than he makes them seem — and, therefore, that he is less wealthy than he claims to be. Or at least, much stingier.

 

By: Teo Armus, The National Memo, June 28, 2016

June 29, 2016 Posted by | Charitable Donations, Donald Trump, Philanthropy | , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Public-Relations Effort For Himself”: Donald Trump’s ‘Shady’ Support For Veterans

When Democrats make the case that Donald Trump has a controversial background when it comes to veterans’ issues, it’s not just wishful thinking. The presumptive Republican nominee, for example, has drawn criticism for supporting a privatization plan for veterans’ care. His associations with the sketchy Veterans for a Strong America exacerbated the problem.

And it certainly didn’t help matters when Trump, who avoided military service during the Vietnam War, said he “felt” like he’d served in the military because his parents sent him to a military-themed boarding school as a teenager. The Republican went so far as to boast that his expensive prep school gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”

Making matters much worse are new questions about Trump and veterans-related fundraising.

In January, the New York Republican skipped a debate in Iowa to instead hold a fundraiser for veterans. Trump repeatedly boasted at the time that, thanks to his bold leadership, he’s raised $6 million for vets. Trump added that he’d contributed $1 million out of his own pocket.

Whatever happened to all of that money? The Washington Post took a closer look.

Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said the fundraiser actually netted about $4.5 million, or 75 percent of the total that Trump announced.

Lewandowski blamed the shortfall on Trump’s own wealthy acquaintances. He said some of them had promised big donations that Trump was counting on when he said he had raised $6 million. But Lewandowski said those donors backed out and gave nothing. […]

Lewandowski also said he did not know whether a $1 million pledge from Trump himself was counted as part of the $4.5 million total. He said Trump has given that amount, but he declined to identify any recipients.

The number of questions, which the campaign does not want to answer, represents a real problem. Exactly how much did Trump raise for veterans? His campaign doesn’t know. How much of it has been allocated? His campaign doesn’t know that, either. Who were the beneficiaries of Trump’s $1 million contribution? The campaign doesn’t want to talk about it.

I’m trying to imagine how the political world would react if Hillary Clinton and her team tried this.

The Post’s report added:

In recent weeks, Trump and his campaign repeatedly declined to give new details about how much they have given away. “Why should I give you records?” Trump said in an interview with The Post this month. “I don’t have to give you records.”

Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said Trump’s refusal to divulge how much of the money he had distributed raised questions about whether the candidate intended the fundraiser primarily as a public-relations effort for himself.

“That’s just shady. Right? No matter how you cut it, that’s just shady,” Rieckhoff said. “If he was going to make it right, a couple of weeks before Memorial Day would be a good time to do it. It behooves him, not just politically but ethically, to come forward and account for this money.”

Just so we’re clear, there’s ample evidence that Trump did raise millions for veterans and some organizations benefited from the donations.

There is, however, additional evidence that Trump’s specific claims about the amount of money raised weren’t true, and for whatever reason, the Republican candidate and his team have been reluctant to account for the money in detail. Indeed, when asked for details about how Trump’s $1 million was allocated, the GOP candidate’s campaign manager responded, “He’s not going to share that information.”

Postscript: To put this in a slightly larger context, in April, the Washington Post reported on Trump’s frequent boasts that he’s given “more than $102 million to charity in the past five years.” The newspaper found, however, “Not a single one of those donations was actually a personal gift of Trump’s own money.”

Update: Several readers reminded me that Trump’s troubles with veterans also extend to his condemnation of John McCain and servicemembers who “get captured.” It’s an important point.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 22, 2016

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Charitable Donations, Donald Trump, Veterans, Veterans Administration | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Art Of The Hustle”: Donald Trump’s ‘Charity’ Is A Money-Making Scam

No wonder Donald Trump calls himself an ardent philanthropist.

He has likely made millions off it.

He is not just some cheap miser who avoids digging into his pocket for charity, as The Smoking Gun and The Washington Post have described him.

He does not simply avoid giving.

He gets.

Maybe his book should have been called The Art of the Hustle.

His biggest score appears to have come in 2006, and if he ever releases his tax return for that year, we will learn if he is a felon or just a liar.

Either way, the self-proclaimed “ardent philanthropist” seems to give precious little money to charity while receiving millions in deductions by donating land he valued at somewhere between 13 and 50 times what he paid for it.

Back in the 1990s, Trump paid $2 million for two parcels of land totaling 436 acres north of New York City with the hope of building a pair of golf courses.

He initially sought to overcome various environmental obstacles and permitting hurdles by applying his self-described mastery of deal making. He placed a phone call to the then supervisor of the Westchester County village of Yorktown, Linda Cooper.

“Linda, just let me build the golf course—I’m rich, you’ll like it,’” Trump said, by her recollection.

Cooper would tell the press that Trump “just didn’t want to go through the rules.”

She offered the same description of Trump that others would later offer during his present presidential campaign.

“He’s like the bully on the playground,” Cooper told the Journal News. “Whether you are a big person or a little person, you have to follow the same rules. If he chooses to stop the process, so be it.”

The rules remained the rules, and Trump did indeed choose to stop the process in 2002.

“You have done a terrible disservice to your constituents who have sadly lost out on a tremendous opportunity,” Trump said in a letter to Cooper.

Trump suggested to reporters that he had been making a sacrifice to begin with.

“My problem is that I can make much more money with housing than I can with a golf course,” he said.

He announced, “I have put a ‘For Sale’ sign out,” and said it was sure to attract “every developer in Westchester.”

He had yet to sell the land four years later, when he donated it to New York State for a park.

“You know me,” he said. “I never throw up my hands. I fight back. I could have sold the property to a developer, because it’s zoned for houses. Instead, I’m giving it to the state, which is the best thing to do.”

The park would of course be named after himself. The gift came with a further condition.

“The name will be prominently displayed at least at each entrance to the park,” read a letter from his attorney to the state.

A press conference was held at the new Donald J. Trump State Park. Trump was joined by his wife, Melania, and two of his children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka.

“This is so beautiful, am I allowed to change my mind?” he joked to his wife.

He said his children had suggested donation as a way “to do something spectacular.”

“I have always loved the city and state of New York and this is my way of trying to give something back,” Trump said, as then-Gov. George Pataki stood beside him, beaming approvingly. “I hope that these 436 acres of property will turn into one of the most beautiful parks anywhere in the world.”

A reporter asked the value of the land in question.

“People have told me about $100 million,” Trump said.

The press took that to mean the donation was worth $100 million, an impression Trump made no effort to dispel.

A town planning official would later suggest that the land was more likely worth in the vicinity of $15 million.

The question now is whether Trump claimed the $100 million valuation as a charitable deduction in his income tax return for 2006. That would seem to constitute tax fraud, a felony.

But a list of Trump’s supposed charitable donations compiled by his campaign and given to the Associated Press is topped by this entry:

“LAND DONATED TO NYS OFFICE OF PARKS—YORKTOWN, NY—436 ACRES…$26,100,000”

That appraisal would be more in keeping with reality and on the honest side of outright fraud if he used it in his tax return. He would not be a felon after all, just a liar who exaggerated the value of the land by some $73,900,000.

He has said, “I fight like hell not to pay a lot of tax,” so he almost certainly sought a big-time tax break from the donation.

Even the much smaller deduction resulting from the $26.1 million valuation would likely still be worth millions more than the $2 million he paid for the land.

Talk about ardent philanthropy!

Trump also remains that rare soul who made money off the 9/11 attacks. He gave little if any of his own money in the aftermath when the whole world was offering to help, but he accepted $150,000 to offset supposed business losses at his building several blocks from Ground Zero.

By contrast, Rosie O’Donnell gave $1 million the day after the attacks. Trump has called her a fat pig.

On Saturday, Trump seemed to reduce his 9/11 net profit by presenting the September 11 Memorial with a check for $100,000 while making his first visit there.

But The Washington Post reported that the check was actually drawn on the Trump Foundation. And Trump does not seem to have given anything to the foundation that bears his name since 2008. The funds handed out in his name have actually come from such various sources as a World Wrestling Federation, a Queens carpet wholesaler, and a prominent ticket scalper known as The Ticket Man.

On Monday, a spokesman for the September 11 Memorial was unable to confirm that Trump’s check had indeed come from the foundation rather than The Donald himself. Should the money prove to have come out of his pocket, he will remain $50,000 ahead from 9/11.

Meanwhile, Donald J. Trump State Park was closed in 2010 as a result of budget cuts. Signs prominently bearing his name are still posted not only at the entrances, as required by the agreement, but on nearby parkway exits.

Only his 2006 tax return will show if Trump is a felon or a liar.

Only that return will document if he was not a big-time giver but a big-time getter.

Only all his tax returns—which the IRS says he has no reason not to release despite his talk about audits —will tell the full story of The Art of the Hustle.

 

By: Michael Daly, The Daily Beast, April 11, 2016

April 13, 2016 Posted by | Charitable Donations, Donald Trump, Tax Returns | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Veterans Being Used As Props”: Trump Claims To Aid Veterans, But Is He The World’s Least Charitable Billionaire?

Donald Trump wants voters to believe that he cares deeply about veterans and proved it by skipping Thursday’s Republican debate to raise money for organizations serving them.

But the billionaire developer’s latest stunt was all about him and his feud with Fox News, not about helping those who served. While he did raise $6 million (including $1 million of his own money), those funds all went to the Donald J. Trump Foundation — a tax-exempt non-profit entity that generally gives barely $1 million a year to charity, let alone to veterans’ groups (the last time it disbursed more than a million dollars was in 2012). Indeed, Trump is reputed to be “the least charitable billionaire in the world.”

He donated $5.5 million between 2009 and 2013, a tiny drop in the bucket for a man who is apparently worth $4.5 billion. According to the latest filings available, his foundation donated only $540,000 in 2014 — with $100,000, a fifth of all donations, going to a group listed as “Citizens United.” If that is the same group whose Supreme Court litigation led to the legalization of limitless political campaign expenditures, it received 10 times the amount of money that the Green Beret Foundation, a charity that helps Green Berets when they return home, received from the Trump Foundation in 2014.

His foundation’s record validates claims by veterans groups that they were being used as props in Trump’s campaign to make him seem the victim of Fox News.

Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, tweeted before the Trump fundraising event: “If offered, @IAVA will decline donations from Trump’s event. We need strong policies from candidates, not to be used for political stunts.” Founded in 2005, IAVA has more than 180,000 members and provides support for over 2.8 million veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, according to its website.

Trump’s foundation, for its part, released a list of the charities that will be receiving the money raised at his counter-programing event. It includes 22 veterans organizations from over a dozen states. But the campaign has not commented on how the groups were selected or how the money will be distributed. If the money is distributed evenly, each organization would stand to receive around $272,000.

By avoiding the last Republican debate before the Iowa primary, Trump sent a clear message to the Republican establishment. He doesn’t need their approval to win over voters.

But it isn’t clear Trump won that battle, even if the debate had the second lowest ratings in this election cycle. The presidential campaign has been going on for nearly a year, the debate was the seventh one for the Republican candidates and it was held on a weeknight. Those factors may explain the lower ratings — and more Americans tuned in for the debate than for Trump’s rival event.

 

By: Saif Alnuweiri, The National Memo, January 29, 2016

February 2, 2016 Posted by | Charitable Donations, Donald Trump, Veterans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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