It’s already been amply established that Donald Trump is a horrible human being. This is a man who found it acceptable to plaster a private cell phone number on social media and mock the disabled, and openly reveled in degrading women. But a bombshell report in Forbes magazine reveals just how deplorable Trump really is. He and his son, Eric, scooped up money that was intended to help kids fight cancer and funneled it into the family real estate empire.
In 2007, Eric–the second son of Donald and Ivana Trump–founded the Eric Trump Foundation to raise money for cancer research. By the time Trump stopped actively raising money for his foundation at the end of 2016 to avoid the appearance that he was selling access to his father, the foundation had raised over $16.3 million for St. Jude, a figure confirmed by the hospital. The foundation has since rebranded as “Curetivity,” and still hosts golf tournaments to benefit St. Jude.
Soon after launching the foundation, he organized a one-day golf tournament at his father’s Trump National Golf Club Westchester, with the proceeds going to St. Jude. For the first four years, tournament expenses ran at around $50,000, which is roughly in line with what a charity would pay at a Trump golf club. However, according to former Trump National Westchester membership director Ian Gillule, Donald “had a cow” when he discovered there was no paper trail for the tournament. He issued an edict–“I don’t care if it’s my son or not–everyone gets billed.”
As a result, costs for the 2011 tournament ballooned to over $142,000–though Eric insisted publicly that he was using the course for free. To offset the increased cost, the Donald J. Trump Foundation donated $100,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation. However, that money eventually wound up in the Trump Organization’s bank account. To Forbes’ Eric Alexander, this transaction looked more like “a drug cartel’s money-laundering operation” than something any charity worth its salt would do. That’s $100,000 that should have gone to help kids fight cancer, and instead went into Trump’s pocket. There are no words for how callous this is.
Believe it or not, the shady accounting doesn’t end there. With the exception of the 2012 tournament, costs jumped each year afterward. By 2015, the last year for which Eric Trump Foundation records are available, the tournament cost $322,000. Alexander crunched the numbers, and couldn’t find a way to explain such expenses in a way that made any sense for a one-day charity golf tournament. Nor could a number of experts on golf charities. All told, Alexander found some $1.2 million in Eric Trump Foundation transactions with “no documented recipients past the Trump Organization.” Eric Trump has maintained that most of the base costs for the tournament were either comped or donated. However, these figures say otherwise.
Alexander also discovered that the Eric Trump Foundation’s donation patterns changed dramatically when four of the seven original board members–friends of Eric with no financial ties to his father’s business empire –left starting in 2010. By 2015, a majority of the now 17-member board had very close ties to the Trump Organization. Besides Eric and his wife, Lara, the board now included six Trump Organization employees and a major donor to the Trump presidential campaign. According to Patrick Langan, the former head golf pro at Trump National Westchester, it was nearly impossible to tell where the Trump Organization ended and the Eric Trump Foundation began.
It was around this time that money began flowing out of the Eric Trump Foundation in a way that looks curious at best. From 2011 to 2015, the foundation donated $500,000 to charities that were personal favorites of the Trump family. Several of them weren’t involved in fighting children’s cancer, and a number of them ended up holding outings or tournaments at Trump golf courses.
Alexander also discovered that Eric began spending money in a way that sounds a lot like something his father would do. For instance, in 2012, he donated $25,000 to the art foundation run by painter George Rodrigue. Later that year, Rodrigue painted a portrait of the Donald that wound up over Eric’s couch.
In 2013, he used $1,600 in foundation money to buy a copper wine still and bottle washer from the American Society for Enology & Viticulture. Eric was at a loss to explain this, even though it was noted on an IRS filing.
Here is the IRS filing showing the payment to the American Society for Enology & Viticulture pic.twitter.com/KGsRIQUMIR
— Dan Alexander (@DanAlexander21) June 6, 2017
Eric was initially willing to answer Alexander’s questions. However, when it became apparent that this was turning into a deep dive, he sent Alexander a barrage of text messages that would do his father proud. He claimed that Alexander had “a motive against myself or my family,” and decided it was best to “disengage.”
Bad move, Eric. Soon after this story went live, one of the Trump family’s biggest gadflies, David Farenthold of The Washington Post, sent Eric a “what the hell is going on here?” email.
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) June 6, 2017
Needless to say, this is not playing well on Twitter.
— Witty P. Paul 🇵🇷 🌊🌴🏖️🌹 (@EjquiujmiPlis) June 6, 2017
Our president just mooched money off of a children's charity for cancer….. just to put it toward trump org. Sickening.
— Savannah 🌺 (@Savannahsxoo) June 6, 2017
Clintons lost $ in real estate deal: yrs of investigation & GOP rage. Trump shifted $ from sick kids to own pockets – eager 2 see GOP react.
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) June 6, 2017
A reminder of just how truly, despicably awful Trump is: He literally stole money from kids with cancer. https://t.co/y9Suisb5Id
— Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) June 6, 2017
Kinda looks like the President stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a charity for kids with cancer? https://t.co/BRUqF8jzc4
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 6, 2017
Like all good Dickensian villains, Donald Trump steals money from sick children to enrich himself. https://t.co/6iC1eaOxIQ
— shauna (@goldengateblond) June 6, 2017
At best, this is a public relations nightmare for both Eric and his father. At worst, it runs afoul of numerous federal and state tax laws and rules. One thing should be clear beyond any doubt, though. Long before he was a #SoCalledPresident, Trump was a #SoCalledMan. There is no other way to describe someone who would even think of taking money from a children’s charity and putting it in his bank account.
Let’s say it clearly and at once–anyone who thinks this is remotely acceptable is not fit to clean the White House, let alone serve in it. If Trump has anything left in him, he will pay back every penny and resign from the presidency. Now.
(featured image courtesy Voice of America, part of public domain)