$102M in Donations, but Not a Penny From Trump Himself

Lots of rounds of golf and other giveaways, though: 'Washington Post' analysis
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2016 8:00 AM CDT
$102M in Donations, but Not a Penny From Trump Himself
In this March 30, 2016, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign stop in Appleton, Wis.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

Last year, Donald Trump's campaign gave the AP a 93-page list it claimed documented $102 million that he's donated to charity over the past five years. The AP didn't print the list—though it published a story deeming Trump's philanthropy "elusive"—but it's since handed the doc over to the Washington Post, which upon further analysis of entries often written in "cryptic internal shorthand" finds no gifts were out of Trump's own pocket. Instead, donations included major land-conservation deals and lots of giveaways, including free rounds of golf offered by his courses during charity auctions and raffles. And many of the gifts come from not Trump himself, but from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which is mainly funded by others (including the WWE's McMahon family) and to which Trump hasn't written a check since 2008, per public tax filings. "He's using [the foundation] as a kind of checkbook, with other people's money," a faculty member at Indiana University's School of Philanthropy says. "It's not wrong. It's not unique. But it's poor philanthropy."

Trump's philanthropic predilections tend toward a particular group, and not all of them charities: namely, Trump's business and political interests and even the occasional celebrity (Serena Williams scored a free framed photo of him and a free plane ride to Florida). While Bill Gates has been vanquishing malaria, for example, Trump's been sending funds to conservatives who could help his GOP standing. Allen Weisselberg, CFO of the Trump Organization, tells the Post that while the items on the list don't include personal cash donations, the list isn't comprehensive and Trump has pulled out his own wallet, though he prefers to be discreet about it. "We want to keep them quiet," Weisselberg says. "He doesn't want other charities to see it. Then it becomes like a feeding frenzy." Others also say he lives up to his "Grateful Millionaire" nickname, doing things no one ever hears about—including reportedly paying off the mortgage for a couple who helped him when his limo broke down. (A fake front page imagines a Trump presidency in the Boston Globe.)

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