Monday, April 11, 2016

Trump's Philanthropist Card is Full of Holes -- Big, BIG Holes

what eye thynk:   What a prince.

(Any underlines are mine.)

Since the first day of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has said that he gave more than $102 million to charity in the past five years. 
To back up that claim, Trump's campaign compiled a list of his contributions--4,844 of them, filling 93 pages. 
But, in that massive list, one thing was missing. 
Not a single one of those donations was actually a personal gift of Trump's own money
Instead, according to a Washington Post analysis, many of the gifts that Trump cited tp prove his generosity were free rounds of gold, given away by his courses for charity auctions and raffles.

The largest items on the list were not cash gifts, but land-conservation agreements to forgo development rights on property Trump owns...
...In addition, many of the gifts on the list came from the charity that bears his name, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which didn't receive a personal check from Trump from 2009 through 2014, according to the most recent public tax filings.  Its work is largely funded by others, although Trump decides where the gifts go.
Some beneficiaries on the list are not charities at all:  They included clients, other businesses, and tennis superstar Serena Williams...
...His giving appears narrowly tied to his business and, now, his political interests.
His foundation, for example, frequently gave money to groups that paid to use Trump's facilities...
Trump wanted the V Foundation, a group that funds cancer research, to rent his California winery for a charity event.  The Trump Foundation donated $10,000 to the V Foundation.  The group rented the winery.  
...(The foundation) donated to conservatives who could help promote Trump's rise in the Republican Party.
When a group that was trying to raise $110,000 to build a handicapped-accessible playground asked Trump for a $10,000 donation, he gave them $7,500.  (Guess there wasn't enough in it for him; unlike the $50,000 donation he made a month later to the American Conservative Union Foundation. That donation won him a prime speaking spot at the Conservative Political Action Convention.
The foundation's second-biggest donation described on the campaign's list went to the charity of a man who had settled a lawsuit with one of Trump's golf courses after being denied a hole-in-one prize. 
I love this story:  Martin Greenberg was participating in a charity event at Trump's golf resort in Briarcliffe NY.  A $1 million prize was offered to anyone who made a hole-in-one.  Trump denied Mr. Greenberg his prize by citing the small print.  Trump said the shot had to be at least 150 yards and Trump's course had (whoopsie!) made the hole too short.  Mr. Greenberg received nothing and he sued.  The day he settled his suit with Trump, the Trump Foundation made its first and its only donation to the Martin B. Greenberg Foundation.  Not bribery, just a coincidence, I'm sure.

...Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, said Trump had, in fact, given generously from his own pocket.  But Weisselberg declined to provide any documentation, such as saying how much charitable giving Trump has declared in his federal tax filings.
Which we're still waiting to see.
The most complete public accounting of Trump's actual charity so far is the $102 million list provided by his campaign last year, titled "Donald J. Trump Charitable Contributions."
In places, it appears to be an unedited mash-up of internal lists kept by Trump's golf clubs, noting all the things they'd given away to anybody...freebies given away at sales meetings, followed by entries in cryptic internal shorthand.  At a Trump golf course in Miami, for instance, the recipient of an $800 gift was listed only as "Brian." 

...The Post estimated that Trump claimed credit for at least 2,900 free rounds of golf, 175 free hotel stays, 165 free meals and 11 gift certificates to spas...
...But Trump's list was also riddled with apparent errors, in which the "charities" that got his gifts didn't seem to be charities at all.
Trump listed a donation to "Serena William Group" in February 2015, valued at exactly $1,136.56.  A spokeswoman for the tennis star said she had attended a ribbon-cutting at Trump's Loudoun County, Va., golf course that year for a new tennis center.  But Trump hadn't donated to her charity.  Instead, he had given her a free ride from Florida on his plane and a free framed photo of herself...
...Trump counted $63.8 million of unspecified "conservation easements." That refers to legal arrangements--which could bring tax breaks--in which a landowner agrees to forgo certain kinds of development on the land that he owns.  In California, for example, Trump agreed to an easement that prevented him from building homes on a plot of land near a golf course.  But Trump kept the land, and kept making money off it.  It is a driving range...
So, if you spend big bucks to rent a Trump facility, he'll give you a donation or maybe a free round of golf.  On the first, he personally makes money while donating the money other people give to his foundation--it's a classic case of I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine; only Trump uses someone else's backscratcher.  The second costs him nothing.  

Trump's approach to philanthropy seems to have very little to do with actual philanthropy and a lot to do with what's in it for Trump.  

As I said at the beginning, what a prince.
You can read Mr. Fahrenthold and Ms. Helderman's entire article here

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