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Was Eric Trump’s Children’s Charity Used To Divert Money To Trump Businesses?

Forbes is out with a hard-hitting investigative piece alleging that the Foundation started by Eric Trump to benefit children’s cancer research was used to divert funds to businesses owned by his father:

Eric Trump is slamming a Forbes report that alleges his charity, the Eric Trump Foundation, has been funneling donations — from donors who believed the money was going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — to the Trump Organization by paying high sums for use of Trump properties during fundraisers and re-donating some funds to charities friendly with Trump interests.

Forbes reported Tuesday that the Eric Trump Foundation paid the Trump family business hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last seven years for use of one of the organization’s golf courses, funds which he claimed were being donated nearly in full to the children’s cancer charity.

“We were able to come up with this concept of raising a lot of money with really no expense and it’s because we were incurring the expenses at the assets we were taking on the expenses as Trump. We were using our own facilities,” Eric told donors in a promotional video.

According to IRS filings, the Eric Trump Foundation in 2012 spent $59,085 on its annual Golf Invitational fundraiser held at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York — money that skimmed from donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Those expenses ballooned to $230,080 in 2013 and to $242,294 in 2014, according to the filings. It is unclear from these tax forms how much of those payments went to the Trump Organization.

Forbes reported that in 2011, costs for Eric Trump’s golf tournament fundraiser tripled because his father realized that the organization had not been charging for the event and there were no bills to prove it. The Foundation declined to provide Forbes with an itemized list of expenses for the tournament.

Charity experts told Forbes that the amount paid to the Trump Organization for a golf tournament fundraiser for St. Jude’s “defy any reasonable cost.”

The increased costs for the tournament coincided with changes to the Foundation’s board in 2010, when it changed from being made up of mostly Eric’s personal friends to those closely connected with the financial interests of the Trump Organization, according to Forbes.

The tax filings also show that the Eric Trump Foundation made a 2014 payment of $87,665 to another Trump property, the Trump National Golf Club in Washington, DC for fundraising events.

In addition, the Forbes report claims that Eric Trump’s charity redirected some donations. More than $500,000 was given by the Eric Trump Foundation to other charities, “many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests,” according to Forbes.

Outside of the above, the report is far too detailed to summarize fairly, so I recommend that you read the full report at the Forbes website. Suffice it to say that, if true, the allegations seem to come close to making out a case of self-dealing and deception on the part of both Eric Trump’s Foundation and The Trump Organization. While the organization was under no legal obligation to provide free access to Trump-branded golf venues, for example, the fact that it was represented to donors and participants alike that this was happening is something that potentially gives rise to allegations of fraud and the violation of laws related to the operation of charities. This is especially relevant given the fact that all of these organizations are based in New York means that they fall under the jurisdiction of New York State laws regarding how charities are required to operate. In fact, the fraudulent operation of charities has been a particular area of interest for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who was also among the Attorney Generals who led the charge on fraud claims against Trump University in the lawsuits that were settled just prior to Trump taking office in January. It’s unclear whether Schneiderman is investigating the matters detailed in the Forbes report, but it’s likely that he will be looking into these allegations.

This report, of course, is just the latest example of something we saw from Trump repeatedly during the campaign. That campaign made heavy and frequent use of Trump-branded hotels and other items throughout the course of the campaign, for example, and because both Trump’s home and his campaign headquarters were based at Trump Tower in Manhattan, the Secret Service ended up leasing space in the building and paying rent so that their agents could effectively do their jobs. To be fair, the Secret Service would have been required by existing Federal regulations to pay rent at market rates for any space they need to use in conducting official duties, the fact of the matter is that Trump was essentially profiting from the fact that he was running for President. There’s plenty of evidence of this to be derived from the expenditure reports filed with payments to Trump-owned properties and businesses. That practice is apparently continuing even as he serves as President.

The allegations in this Forbes report, of course, are far different from what happened during the campaign. If true, they mean that Eric Trump’s foundation was deceiving donors and participants in the annual golf fundraiser with the idea that it was paying essentially nothing for expenses related to the fundraiser and that all the funds were going to St. Jude’s Hospital. Instead, while it is true that the foundation was raising money that went to the hospital, the amount was far less than what was being represented. Those misrepresentations need to be investigated fully.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    I’m sure Jeff Sessions and Trump/Christie’s new FBI director will get right on it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    OT…lots to keep up with these days…here is Comeys opening statement for tomorrow.
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4rblq-fxqLaX3Nwc1VJb00xUms/view
    I’m now an attorney but it doesn’t paint Dumb Don in an attractive light.

    Also…I really think this Qatar thing is not getting the attention it deserves in any of the media. Trump is inflaming the middle-east thru his abject stupidity. He’s going to get us into a needless war in that fwcked up hornets nest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  3. Pete S says:

    So in 2015 one of these things happened:

    1. Trump decided to run for president and nobody around him realized that it would bring a lot of scrutiny on some pretty shady business practices. This is possible since he seems genetically incapable of hiring someone with enough of a conscience to actually realize that some of these practices are wrong.
    2. Trump decided to run for president and the people around him decided either through malice or fear of telling him something he did not want to hear, that he was opening himself to a lot of scrutiny on some pretty shady business practices.
    3. Trump decides to run for president and the people closest to him tell him that he is opening himself up to scrutiny on some shady business practices. He says “screw it, I’m Donald Trump, I have been untouchable for almost 70 years and that isn’t going to change now”.
    4. Trump decides to run for president believing it is the best way to shut down any investigations into some pretty shady business practices.

    To me none of these are impossible, which is a pretty scary situation. You would like to see a president for whom all of the above are impossible.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  4. Franklin says:

    The OTB subheading (which you only see on the main page) suggests it was ‘used as a front’. I’ve read the full article, and my opinion is that that characterization is rather strong.

    To me it sounded like Eric’s charity was originally using the facilities cheaply (or even for free) until dad caught wind of it. After Eric’s friends on the board were replaced by members of the Trump Organization, the charity suddenly started being charged (possibly excessively) for use of the facilities.

    But as the article says, it looks improper even if it wasn’t necessarily improper. And then there’s the part where money was redirected to other charities. That’s not the worst thing, in the moral sense, but it is wrong to misrepresent where the money is going.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. Hal_10000 says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Also…I really think this Qatar thing is not getting the attention it deserves in any of the media. Trump is inflaming the middle-east thru his abject stupidity. He’s going to get us into a needless war in that fwcked up hornets nest

    This is exactly what I feared: a Sunni-Shia war with the US taking sides.

    As for this, it seems like Eric actually tried to run a reasonable charity but Trump got in and insisted that it start pouring money into his businesses. It’s the Trump Foundation redux.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  6. pylon says:

    I suppose it’s not technically illegal for the facility owned by Trump to charge the charity using said facility. But it’s still a grift. A possibly misrepresentation given what the younger Trump said about costs.

    All along I’ve said that the continued used of Mar-a-Lago was just a means to prop up the resort by having the government use it. If Trump was interested only in using it because of his own comfort and convenience, he’s offer it up for free or at least at cost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  7. Franklin says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: That’s actually fascinating reading. I do understand that a statement from Comey may be biased to make Comey look good, which it does, but it does not make DJT look good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Hal_10000:

    This is exactly what I feared: a Sunni-Shia war with the US taking sides.

    And you know that dumb fwcker in the White House couldn’t tell you the difference between the two if he had to save his incestuous daughters life. I guess he will forge peace in the Middle East thru nuclear winter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  9. Nick says:

    Of course, the recent attacks in Tehran by ISIS complicates things, at least for Trump and his pea-brained followers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. pylon says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Given that Trump doesn’t know the difference between evangelicals and Presbyterians, notwithstanding that he claims to be the latter, I think you are right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve heard rumblings that this is just petty stuff and made up by the MSM. The reason? Trump is a mega-mega billionaire and wouldn’t need to rip off charities to make a few hundred grand. And he’s too smart to take the risk.

    One of my life lessons was Congressman Dan Rostenkowski. I’m originally from Chicago so was not surprised that he was corrupt. But as the investigation unfolded I wondered if some of the stuff was made up, because how could such a powerful man be involved in such petty, petty corruption, sometimes realizing no more than a few hundred dollars? But I eventually learned the lesson: a crook is a crook because he is a crook. That’s the most relevant fact about them. Rostenkowski got off on stealing things. So does Trump. He is a thief and a liar to his very core.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  12. J-Dub says:

    If you substituted the Trump names in the article with the names of mafia crime bosses it wouldn’t seem far fetched. It’s like a mafia boss that sets his child up with a legitimate business only to tell them later that they need it to launder money.

    I’m hoping that Mueller accepts these practices as being under his purview and investigates them fully.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. J-Dub says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    And you know that dumb fwcker in the White House couldn’t tell you the difference between the two

    Trump will let God sort that out. He’s just here to arrange the meeting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: @Hal_10000:

    If I’m not mistaken, Qatar is predominantly Sunni–I think Salafi–same as Saudi Arabia. The rulers of Qatar have taken a more western (for lack of a better word) outlook at international relations, and have reached out to both Israel and Iran. A major cause of the tension between Qatar and the other Arab nations is that they haven’t adhered to the Sunni-Shia divide, diplomatically speaking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  15. Stormy Dragon says:

    The increased costs for the tournament coincided with changes to the Foundation’s board in 2010, when it changed from being made up of mostly Eric’s personal friends to those closely connected with the financial interests of the Trump Organization

    Funny thing is I can picture Eric being unaware what was going on, but ending up going to jail because he got screwed over by his own father.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    because he got screwed over by his own father.

    With Trump’s statements about Ivanka on record, please don’t tempt a weak soul with lines like that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  17. Slugger says:

    There must be cost figures for using a golf course for an event out there. What are the comparables?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. teve tory says:

    “Ugh! You guys! You said this would be over by now! Why’s this taking so long?”
    “Sir, there’s a big chunk of your base, and all the GOP leadership, that appear to have no patriotism or ethics whatsoever.”
    “Fuck me, I want this to end. Okay, brainstorming. Blue Sky here. No judgements. Anything goes.”
    “Wait til one of our allies suffers a terrorist attack, and then mock the ally?”
    “Numbnuts I did that last week. Nothing! Next!”
    “Rip off a charity.”
    “Done. Two or three times. They don’t care. I need something completely indefensible.”
    “Steal money from cancer victims?”
    “I’ve stolen money from thousands of small businesses, you’ve seen the lawsuits, I’m sure one or two of those people musta had cancer. Law of Averages.”
    “Steal money–”
    (Trump rolls his eyes)
    “–hear me out! Steal money…from children with cancer.
    (Trump is silent. He squints a little.)
    “You know…you know…that just…might…do it.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  19. David M says:

    This isn’t really a surprise anymore, we know Trump doesn’t do donations. He does do scams. He is who he is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0