Yet again, devastating new investigations reveal that the self-declared “philanthropist” Donald Trump is in fact nothing of the sort. The Washington Post’s inquiry into the practices of the Trump Foundation reveal that for years, Donald Trump has been accepting the charitable donations of others and taking the credit for it, while spending the money on outrageous personal expenses and even personally profiting from their generosity.
The Charles Evans Foundation in New Jersey, for instance, donated $150,000 to the Trump Foundation, which then donated the money to the Palm Beach Police Foundation in 2010. Trump was awarded the Palm Tree award for “his” generosity, which he accepted at an opulent party held at his own Mar-a-Lago mansion in Florida – and made money off of, since the police department paid to rent the room. It’s “unclear” how much Trump made off that particular event, but in 2014, tax returns show the police department paid over $276,463 to rent the place for another event, which in all likelihood came from the taxpayers.
Trump’s last gift to his own charity foundation was in 2008 – all the rest of the money comes from other sources, which Trump then uses to give to other charities, creating the impression that he is a generous man. Sometimes, however, Trump has straight-up used donation money to buy himself personal gifts, the most flagrant of which was reportedly a $20,000 six-foot painting of himself. The Washington Post contacted over 250 charities in attempts to track down Trump’s “donations” – but were largely unsuccessful. Many of the charities that Trump told the IRS he had donated to had no idea that he had promised them money.
It’s the kind of outrageous display of narcissism one would expect from a Saudi prince or a Roman emperor, representatives of the absolute power and opulence that the selfish Trump clearly aspires to. When he’s not passing other people’s money off as his own or buying himself celebrity mementos like a $12,000 signed Tim Tebow helmet, he uses his charity money to make obviously illegal political donations, like the $25,000 bribe he paid to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in exchange for her dropping the investigation into his Trump University scam.
Not only does he not donate any of his own money to the foundation, he doesn’t even have the grace to follow through with promised donations to other charities that he would be paying with other people’s money. Five donations were reported to the IRS that the recipients said they never received, which doesn’t even count the veterans organization that Trump has stiffed over the past year.
Experts on the modern charity business say they have “they had rarely seen anything like it.” Trump and his cronies have the nerve to criticize the Clinton Foundation, which has raised over $2 billion and has helped over 400 million people across the world in a wide variety of philanthropic efforts. The Trump Foundation, on the other hand, saw its coffers drop to $0 in 2008 and has been used a personal piggy bank to purchase goodwill and influence for its founder. It’s just another tool for the miserly schemer to exploit in order to further his own wealth and his own ambitions – as is his entire political campaign.
As if more evidence was needed, this explosive report should be the nail in the coffin of this absurd idea that Donald Trump cares about anybody but himself.
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.