Report says Trump charity a self-serving enterprise; campaign calls story ‘inaccurate’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Party of New York State's 2016 Presidential Reception on Sept. 7 at the New York City Marriott Marquis. Saturday, The Washington Post ran an investigative report that claimed Trump's charitable foundation is largely a self-serving enterprise to which the billionaire rarely contributes any of his own money. A Trump campaign spokeswoman replied Monday that the story is inaccurate. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) — The charitable foundation that carries the name of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump exists and operates in a highly unusual manner and supplies the billionaire with mountains of credit he doesn’t deserve, an investigative news report claimed this weekend.

The story by The Washington Post, titled “How Donald Trump retooled his charity to spend other people’s money,” detailed various activities by the Trump Foundation, a small charitable organization the candidate established in 1987.

In particular, the story chastises Trump for supposedly running the charity with other people’s money — while only contributing small amounts from his own pocket over the first 20 years. His last donation of $30,000, the report says, was made in 2008.

That, however, doesn’t stop Trump from taking philanthropic credit for the foundation’s work — when he’s practically contributed nothing, the report states.

“[It’s] an arrangement that experts say is almost unheard of for a family foundation,” the Post wrote in the report.

The Post’s investigation is based on examinations of 17 years of tax filings and interviews with more than 200 individuals or groups listed as Trump donors or beneficiaries, the newspaper said.

Among the accusations in the Post report:

  • Trump spent $20,000 in charity funds to buy a 6-foot painting of himself
  • Trump used charitable donations for political purposes, which is illegal
  • Trump’s charity gave $25,000 to a group affiliated with Florida Attorney General Pamela Biondi, which drew a fine from the IRS
  • Trump’s foundation claimed donations to charities that never received them
  • Trump’s charity ultimately paid for several items the businessman said he, himself, would cover
  • Trump’s charity paid $20,000 for a painting Melania Trump won at a benefit auction in 2007, along with other incidents of “self-dealing”

“Behind the scenes, he was transforming the foundation from a standard-issue rich person’s philanthropy into a charity that allowed a rich man to be philanthropic for free,” the report states.

Accusations stemming from the donation to a Biondi affiliate group say Trump’s foundation paid it to dissuade the attorney general from filing charges in the Trump University scandal. Biondi did, in fact, ultimately decline to file charges in that case.

Trump’s campaign, though, insists the donation and Biondi’s decision are entirely unrelated. It also said Trump reimbursed his charity the $25,000 once the issue was pointed out by the IRS.

“This was a minor issue that was brought to the attention of the foundation and addressed immediately,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said of the matter, which led to a $2,500 IRS penalty.

The Post expanded on its investigation with another story Monday.

Also Monday, Hicks responded to the Post’s reports by saying Trump has given “tens of millions” to charity in his lifetime — a claim the newspaper continued to be skeptical of.

“This article is not at all accurate,” Hicks said in a statement. “Mr. Trump continues to be unfairly maligned for his generosity and we will continue to correct the record.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign called the story “more bad news” about Trump.

“The Washington Post published a devastating exposé into the real workings of the Trump Foundation,” the campaign said in an email to supporters Saturday.


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