On October 3, the office of New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman ordered Donald Trump’s personal charity to cease fundraising in New York state immediately; The Foundation had been violating state law by soliciting donations without proper authorization.
At this point, I’d like to point out that the Clinton Foundation, which has helped reduce poverty and improve the health of thousands of people across the globe, has virtually nothing in common with the Trump Foundation.
Records show that from 2009 to 2014, the Trump Foundation raised $4.36 million, of which $2.5 million was from New Yorkers. State rules require nonprofits raising more than $25,000 a year in New York to register and file audited financial statements and annual financial reports to the attorney general’s charities bureau.
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Since the Trump Foundation has not complied with this requirement, Schneiderman’s office notified Trump that he must provide those financial documents within 15 days.
This got me thinking: What exactly is the Trump Foundation? I discovered that it is managed by Trump and his children Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr., but they only spend half an hour a week working on it. Here are five other true facts about the organization I was able to uncover. (Unlike the fervid declarations of the Republican nominee for President, these actually are accurate.)
1. Donald Trump No Longer Contributes to His Foundation
The Donald J. Trump Foundation is a private charitable organization created by Trump in 1987 with the proceeds from his best-selling book, “The Art of the Deal.” Between 1987 and 2006, Trump gave $5.4 million to his own foundation. However, his contribution was just $35,000 in 2007, $30,000 in 2008, and zero dollars for the past eight years. Instead, the foundation’s coffers have been filled with money from other people, including organizations and people in New York.
2. Trump Donates Other People’s Money, but Takes the Credit for Himself
In 2010, Trump was honored by the Palm Beach Police Foundation for his “selfless support” of the group’s work.
However, The Washington Post explains what was really going on: Trump had gone to a New Jersey charity, the Charles Evans Foundation (named for a deceased businessman) to ask for a donation.
“The Evans Foundation said yes. In 2009 and 2010, it gave a total of $150,000 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
Then, Trump’s foundation turned around and made donations to the police group in South Florida.”
That’s how Trump took credit for the Evans Foundation’s gifts, without adding a dime of his own money.
The Washington Post has unearthed numerous other examples of this behavior. Trump, meanwhile, continues to insist that he gives his own money generously to charities, but there is no proof of this, and he refuses to release his tax returns, which would reveal any such donations.
3. Trump Has Used Foundation Money to Buy Himself Gifts
In 2007, speed painter Michael Israel created a portrait of Trump during a benefit for a children’s charity held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Israel painted a life-size Trump in under seven minutes, and the portrait was then auctioned off. Melania Trump placed the winning bid of $20,000. According to the charity that held the benefit, the Trump Foundation actually paid the $20,000.
In 2012, a similar event happened: Trump placed the winning bid of $12,000 on a signed football helmet and jersey from Tim Tebow, then a quarterback with the Denver Broncos. As The Washington Post reported, the Trump Foundation paid the bill. As the paper also pointed out, the IRS prohibits such acts. I wonder how many more times Trump has taken foundation money to give himself gifts?
4. Trump Foundation Money Has Been Used for Political Purposes
Trump was forced to pay a $2,500 penalty tax this year to the IRS for a 2013 donation in which the Foundation gave $25,000 to a campaign group affiliated with Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi. It is against the law for a charitable foundation to give money to a political group.
In 2013, Bondi was considering whether to pursue a legal case against Trump University, based on the fraud complaints she had been receiving. In the same year, she approached Trump to ask for a donation, and she received $25,000 from the Trump Foundation. And surprise, surprise! She decided not to pursue that legal case.
5. Trump Foundation Money Has Been Used for Political Purposes
The Foundation does make a few dozen donations annually, in amounts usually ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. Since around 2005, the money for these gifts has come primarily from Trump’s friends and associates, mostly in return for favors granted. The Foundation gives money, for example, to charities that rent Trump’s ballrooms. Comedy Central gave $400,000 to the Foundation after Trump appeared on one of their celebrity roasts, and People Magazine donated $150,000 after Trump gave them rights to publish photos of his son Barron.
The Trump Foundation is clearly not a charitable organization, as other foundations are.