Trump’s “charities”

You have got to read this investigation into the Trump Foundation. It’s a great big scam. Trump has not built up an endowment, he has no employees, and all he does is beg his cronies to put money into it that he can dole out to generate the appearance that he does charitable giving…or worse, that he can use to buy himself extravagant gifts. If there is going to be any criminal investigation of a political candidate, he ought to be the target.

The Donald J. Trump Foundation is not like other charities. An investigation of the foundation — including examinations of 17 years of tax filings and interviews with more than 200 individuals or groups listed as donors or beneficiaries — found that it collects and spends money in a very unusual manner.

For one thing, nearly all of its money comes from people other than Trump. In tax records, the last gift from Trump was in 2008. Since then, all of the donations have been other people’s money — an arrangement that experts say is almost unheard of for a family foundation.

Trump then takes that money and generally does with it as he pleases. In many cases, he passes it on to other charities, which often are under the impression that it is Trump’s own money.

But, you know, I read the whole thing as an indictment of Trump’s venality and corruption, and I realized that he is so corrupt that he probably reads it as praise for his great business sense. Except for one paragraph. I bet this is the one thing that will burn.

The most money it has ever reported having was $3.2 million at the end of 2009. At last count, that total had shrunk to $1.3 million. By comparison, Oprah Winfrey — who is worth $1.5 billion less than Trump, according to a Forbes magazine estimate — has a foundation with $242 million in the bank. At the end of 2014, the Clinton Foundation had $440 million in assets.

The worst thing you can say to Donald Trump: he’s small, cheap, and poor.

If you don’t believe me, here’s Donald Trump on 11 September 2001.

Only parenthetically in the middle of the 10-minute conversation did Trump turn to a favorite topic-size. 40 Wall Street, he said, referring to his 71-story building blocks away from the now-collapsed twin towers, actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually, before the World Trade Center, was the tallest-and then, when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second-tallest. And now it’s the tallest.

There weren’t any videos of Muslims celebrating the fall of the twin towers, but there was one orange capitalist barely containing his glee at a rival building getting knocked down.


  1. says

    It’s funny: We use the word “corrupt” to describe certain political dealings, or individual politicians themselves if they’re involved in numerous corrupt transactions or operate in this way over many years. With Trump, “corrupt” appears to describe the core of his being. The further you examine any aspect of his life and relationships, the more you find.

  2. says

    One side will say this is not surprising, was expected, and barely changes their opinion of Trump, if at all.

    The other side will either say it’s all lies or proof that Trump is a good businessman. Maybe even cheer at Trump making a mockery of charitable foundations.


    So if his tower is still the tallest in downtown Manhattan, should we expect a plane to hit it if he becomes president? Would terrorists hate Trump enough to do that? Would that be something Trump would orchestrate to garner support for him? Would he collect on insurance money for it?? Would that be a resulting conspiracy theory??? Would people proceed to say such a theory also proves Trump is a good businessman????

    I was going to stop at the second question but it kind of snowballed into chaos. Chaos and question marks.

  3. Guy in a Tank says

    According to Wikipedia and Google Maps 70 Pine Street, located less than 200 meters away from 40 Wall Street, is taller (by about 30 ft) than the Trump building and has been for more than 80 years. I’m not sure about the definition of “downtown Manhattan”, Lower Manhattan being the recognized term as far as I can tell. So maybe he is technically correct as 70 Pine St is outside “downtown Manhattan” (it lies inside Lower Manhattan). But I find it pretty ironic that Trump is boasting that his building is the tallest in an area only a few hundred meters around it. Fun fact: 70 Pine St is quite a bit closer to 40 Wall St than either of them is tall.

  4. says

    Most charitable foundations are tax scams. Or, rather, they’re officially-sanctioned tax shelters for the rich. It’s just another way that rich people can enjoy “their” money while reducing the amount of tax they’ll pay on it. There probably isn’t a politician in Washington who isn’t in on the game. Trump and Clinton are merely exceptionally disgusting examples.

  5. says

    Oh, and PS: foundations/trusts are also a popular way for rich people to shelter “their” assets. By putting them in the trust, they can lose a yuge lawsuit or go to prison, or whatever, and nobody can sue the trust to recover any of the money. I’m sure Clinton doesn’t need her trust for that but Trump might. For someone like Trump, the beauty of a trust is that you cannot possibly lose everything; you might get knocked down to your last $10 million or something, but you’re invulnerable for all intents and purposes.

  6. lotharloo says

    This is why Bernie or Bust crowd are really really baffling me. Luckily, there have not been many of those people left but seriously, despite H.R.C many flaws, how can people look at Trump and say, “I’ll take a gamble and let this guy shake the system.”

  7. whheydt says

    In addition to the other shenanigans, people have been calling around to the charities that the Trump Foundation claimed (in tax filings) to have given donations. Most them are saying they never got any money from that source. So it looks like the Trump Foundation has directly lied in filings with the IRS.

  8. petesh says

    @Marcus Ranum: You appear to be completely uninformed. Trump essentially does not give money to charity, but he seeks the credit for giving it by having a few of his buddies give cash to his foundation and then passing on the money as if it were his own. That’s a scam, but it’s not actually a tax scam. (He also charged a charity large rent for holding a gala at which he was honored for charitable giving, which seems to be a common practice for him — he’s making money out of his campaign that way.) You could, I suppose, try to argue that the Clintons are doing something similar but (as the linked article noted) the big Clinton Foundation has in fact redirected hundreds of millions of dollars to actually doing good. Trump has redirected thousands; we’re talking order of magnitudes difference here.

  9. lesherb says

    Does anyone know who/how to contact in order for Trump’s actions are investigated? It seems the only one doing anything is David Fahrenthold from the Wahington Post.

  10. NYC atheist says

    @4 Duth

    Freedom tower is now the tallest building in NY, at 1,776ft.

    @5 Guy

    Downtown is anything under 14th Street, which includes pine street.