Donald Trump’s middle son, Eric, has repeatedly insisted that his namesake charity, the Eric Trump Foundation, funnels between 95 and 100 percent of the donations it receives to worthy beneficiaries. There are ways in which he has appeared to live up to this promise: by declining to draw a salary, to pay other board members, or to have much permanent staff to speak of. However, a new investigation by The Daily Beast reveals that his charity has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last decade to a variety of questionable beneficiaries, including Donald Trump himself.
While the Beast investigation finds that the Eric Trump Foundation has many commendable points on its resume — for example, having raised more than $6 million for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — it has also funneled cash back into the Trump Foundation and Trump properties. On an IRS form, an ETF official wrote that the Foundation is able to “utilize” Trump properties for charity events, and that all prizes at attendant silent auctions are donations. In a video from earlier this year, Eric Trump says, “We’re so lucky as Trumps to have the best hotels in the world, to have the best golf courses in the world, and other great assets, and we’re so lucky to be able to use those assets at our disposal for a great purpose.”
The implication here is that golf tournaments and similar events that take place at Trump properties are welcomed free of charge. However, from the ETF’s inception in 2007 through 2014, it paid almost $900,000 to “a company of a family member of the Board of Directors,” meaning Donald Trump. While technically legal, Philip Hackney, an associate professor of law at Louisiana State University and former IRS employee, tells the Beast that it raises ethical questions, especially when the charity making the payments tells donors that nearly 100 percent of its proceeds go to those in need.
In addition to paying his father, Eric Trump’s foundation has appeared to dole out tens of thousands of dollars to recipients such as The Little Baby Face Foundation, a charity that has generated controversy for its mission to provide plastic surgery to children with large noses, ears, and other facial features. The ETF also paid $25,000 to an artist for a portrait of Donald Trump that was ultimately purchased by Eric himself. (The Donald has previously come under fire for using charity dollars to purchase paintings of himself.)
The Beast‘s reporting pulls back the curtain on a litany of questionable connections, including instances in which the younger Trump seems to have paid his father’s companies lump sums, of which an expert says, “It sounds like they were just making a number up.”
(Via The Daily Beast)