DIRTY DEAL: Trump Used Charity Funds To Settle Legal Problems And Self Advertising
The list of Donald Trump’s questionable deals keeps growing. Another dirty deal was just brought to light by The Washington Post, revealing that Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses.
According to the report, legal documents show that Trump used $258,000 from Trump’s charity to pay for legal troubles — violating laws against “self-dealing”, which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.
Trump is now facing scrutiny from the office of the New York attorney general, which is examining whether the foundation broke state charity laws.
The cases below provide clear evidence that Trump runs his charity in a way that may have violated U.S. tax law and gone against the moral conventions of philanthropy.
“In one case, from 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club faced $120,000 in unpaid fines from the town of Palm Beach, Fla., resulting from a dispute over the size of a flagpole.
In a settlement, Palm Beach agreed to waive those fines — if Trump’s club made a $100,000 donation to a specific charity for veterans. Instead, Trump sent a check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity funded almost entirely by other people’s money, according to tax records.
In another case, court papers say one of Trump’s golf courses in New York agreed to settle a lawsuit by making a donation to the plaintiff’s chosen charity. A $158,000 donation was made by the Trump Foundation, according to tax records.
In 2013, Trump used $5,000 from the foundation to buy advertisements touting his chain of hotels in programs for three events organized by a D.C. preservation group. And in 2014, Trump spent $10,000 of the foundation’s money for a portrait of himself bought at a charity fundraiser.
Several years earlier, Trump had used $20,000 from the Trump Foundation to buy a different, six-foot-tall portrait.
In another instance, from 2013, the Trump Foundation made a $5,000 donation to the D.C. Preservation League, according to the group and tax filings. That nonprofit’s support has been helpful for Trump as he has turned the historic Old Post Office Pavilion on Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue NW into a luxury hotel.
The Trump Foundation’s donation to that group bought a “sponsorship,” which included advertising space in the programs for three big events that drew Washington’s real estate elite. The ads did not mention the foundation or anything related to charity. Instead, they promoted Trump’s hotels, with glamorous photos and a phone number to call to make a reservation.
“The foundation wrote a check that essentially bought advertising for Trump hotels?” asked John Edie, the longtime general counsel for the Council on Foundations, when a Post reporter described this arrangement. “That’s not charity.
“If he’s using other people’s money — run through his foundation — to satisfy his personal obligations, then that’s about as blatant an example of self-dealing [as] I’ve seen in a while,” said Jeffrey Tenenbaum, who advises charities at the Venable law firm in Washington. ”
WaPo sent the Trump campaign a detailed list of questions about these cases, but received no response.
H:T/ Washington Post.