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Trump’s Checkered Record on Charity: What We Know

Donald Trump consistently claims to have made numerous charitable contributions over the years. He’ssaid, “I give millions for charity each year” and “I don’t think I’m greedy … If I were, I wouldn’t give to charities.” Trump and his team have also said that, in addition to money given away by his foundation, Trump makes charitable contributions privately.
However, recent news reports indicate that Trump has either given less than he claimed or promised to do – or, simply failed to make any contributions at all.

* Mother Jones reported that, in 1994, Indiana agreed to award Trump a gaming license to operate a riverboat casino in the town of Gary. As part of his agreement with the state, Trumppromised, using a portion of the proceeds from the casino, to establish a foundation that would focus on Indiana charities. They were to include, according to Mother Jones, “35 charities, everything from Gamblers Anonymous to the Gary Commission on the Status of Women, food banks, homeless services, and groups that worked with the developmentally disabled.”

-But, as Mother Jones’ reports, Trump’s goal with the Indiana venture was to save his Atlantic City casinos and the agreement to establish the charity simply got in the way. They wrote, “Trump’s promise to the Indiana investors had become inconvenient. By 1995, his New Jersey operation was on the verge of forced bankruptcy after falling behind on the huge debt payments owed on his Atlantic City establishments. He needed the Indiana riverboat to save his company. Using the Gary casino as additional security, Trump was able to refinance his near-bankrupt New Jersey casinos through a public stock offering for a new firm that lumped together the Indiana property and some of the New Jersey properties. This arrangement made it difficult for Trump’s company to provide the minority investors or the foundation shares only in the Indiana riverboat.”

-So, shortly after the Indiana deal was confirmed, “Trump’s company promptly dumped… the promise to place 7.5 percent of the riverboat ownership into a foundation,” saving his company millions. In a subsequent lawsuit, a jury later found that Trump’s firm had violated its contractual agreement to create the foundation with 7.5 percent of the riverboat ownership. By ridding itself of this obligation, Trump’s firm had avoided making a charitable contribution worth between $4.5 million and nearly $30 million, according to estimates by experts on both sides who testified at the trial.”

* Trump has also shown over the years not to have fulfilled his promises to donate money from his foundation – which was largely funded by others – or make personal contributions.  Extensive reporting by the Washington Post paints a disturbing picture of Trump’s history with philanthropy.

-Trump’s Foundation: -Over the last 15 years, Trump has “promised to donate earnings from a wide variety of his money-making enterprises” including “The Apprentice,” Trump Vodka, Trump University and various book projects. According to the Post, “if he had honored all those pledges, Trump’s gifts to charity would have topped $8.5 million.” But records show he donated only about one-third of that amount, $2.8 million, through his own foundation. But, there is no evidence that Trump has given to his foundation lately: The last record of any gift from him to his foundation was in 2008.

-Trump’s Personal Contributions: The Post also got in touch with 188 charities in an attempt to find evidence of personal contributions to charity from Trump between 2008 and May 2016. The charities all had “some link to Trump, either because he had given them his foundation’s money, appeared at their charity galas or praised them publicly.” The Post only found one donation in that period: “a 2009 gift of between $5,000 and $9,999 to the Police Athletic League of New York City.”

* There has also been reporting on Trump’s previous promise to donate millions to veterans’ charities following a highly publicized fundraiser in Iowa in January. Trump organized and attended this event – and skipped a presidential primary debate.

-Less than Promised: Trump claimed at the fundraising event and in subsequent days that he raised “$6 million”. In fact, he raised only $5.6 million.

-Trump’s $1 million Gift: Trump said that the $6 million figure included a $1 million check from his own pocket. It was not until the Washington Post began asking questions  in May that it was revealed Trump had not yet given the $1 million sum. Trump finally did make the contribution, but just a few days after his campaign claimed he had already done so.

-Funds Not Distributed: It was not until the Washington Post questioned, in May, whether Trump’s promised funds from his January fundraiser had been distributed, that the funds were indeed sent to the targeted organizations. The Associated Press found that a number of the organizations received checks from Trump dated on or about May 24, the day the Washington Post story was posted.

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