Most of us are appalled by the things Donald Trump has to say. He has been very callous with his disrespect towards war hero John McCain while venerating our troops in the next breath. So it makes sense that he may have helped a shady veterans’ group raise funds that does not actually work for veterans’ advocacy. On Tuesday, he appeared on the USS Iowa in Los Angeles to accept an endorsement from a “nonprofit” veterans group, Veterans for a Strong America, headed by huckster Joel Arends. Arends’ group, according to the Associate Press lost its nonprofit status in early August for not filing tax returns, which would let us know how the group collects money and how it spends it. According to OpenSecrets.org, the group presently has $30 on hand and $318 in debts, which might explain why they held a fundraiser rally featuring Trump as main speaker – charging up to $1,000 a person.
Trump said, in front of 16-inch guns on the Iowa: “You know, Joel and the group called and they said, ‘Would you come over and speak?…I got here and they asked a couple of days ago would it be possible to come over and say a few words. An endorsement from your group, with so many veterans, hundreds of thousands of veterans, I really appreciate that, Joel. I did not expect it. I didn’t expect it, I didn’t ask for it. I will say this: I am with the veterans, 100 percent. They’re our greatest people.”
Rachel Maddow points out, in the video below, it appears as if Arends is the only member of Veterans for a Strong America, and it is actually not possible to join this organization. Making matters worse, Arends was not only involved with a fake U.S. Senate candidate in South Dakota, he was also involved a phony super PAC scam in Texas, and he is currently under investigation in Arizona.
All this information would have been easily available to Trump with a simple Google search – some bare minimum you might have expected from a candidate for the presidency. Or else he was entirely aware of their shady status and had no problem helping to raise funds for a shady organization.
In addition, that simple search might also might have saved Trump some potential new grief, because AP reports: “Regardless of its legal status as a nonprofit, Veterans for a Strong America’s endorsement of Trump on the deck of the USS Iowa may also raise campaign finance questions. Under federal law, corporations are restricted to donating $2,700 either in cash or in-kind contributions to a campaign. But the event, which Veterans for a Strong America paid for, involved 850 attendees, putting the cost at roughly $11,000.”
As many have said, Trump is an embarrassment to himself and this country and to the office he seeks.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.