What billionaire goes to a charity auction, bids $12,000 for a signed Tim Tebow Broncos helmet, and pays for it using charity money other people donated? One guess.
The Washington Post’s “close examination” of Trump’s charity records is paying other dividends besides getting the orange-hued huckster to cough up the $1 million he promised to veterans groups.
Four years ago, at a charity fundraiser in Palm Beach, Donald Trump got into a bidding war at the evening’s live auction. The items up for sale: A Denver Broncos helmet, autographed by then-star quarterback Tim Tebow, and a Tebow jersey.
Trump won, eventually, with a bid of $12,000. Afterward, he posed with the helmet. His purchase made gossip-column news: a flourish of generosity, by a mogul with money to burn. “The Donald giveth, and The Donald payeth,” wrote the Palm Beach Daily News. “Blessed be the name of The Donald.”
The same guy who hired bulldozers and dump trucks to move dirt just for show in Atlantic City in 1982, bought the helmet and jersey to look good in the press. But he paid using money from his own charity, The Donald J. Trump Foundation.
If it were Trump’s money funneled through his own foundation, who’d care? But Trump hadn’t given a penny to his own foundation in three years, according to WaPo’s research. More troubling, is that Trump is the president of his foundation, which has no employees and shares Trump’s business address.
IRS rules prohibit a charity’s officers from benefiting from a charity’s money–it’s called “self-dealing” (a practice in which Mr. Trump has quite a lot of practice). The Susan G. Komen charity confirmed that Trump paid with his foundation’s money. WaPo found that Trump’s foundation didn’t report the transaction as “self-dealing” and pay any associated penalties in its 2012 return.
Did Trump violate tax law? It all depends on what happened to the helmet. If he personally has it, the IRS can act; if the foundation possesses it, it’s legal. If Trump gave the helmet away, it’s a gray area depending on who got it. In short: It’s going to be hard to prove Trump did anything illegal since he can simply claim the helmet belongs to the foundation.
The kicker here is that Tebow’s Broncos fell to the Patriots in 2012, Tebow was traded and the memorabilia is nearly worthless compared to what Trump paid. On eBay you can have one for $700 or best offer.
Trump blew $11,300 of his own donors’ money to get one good news blurb for himself as some kind of ersatz philanthropist. He could simply have–quietly–given $12,000 of his foundation’s money to Komen. This kind of self-centered fakery is all we can expect of him, and it’s no secret.
We have an election coming up between a lying, crooked, self-serving narcissist and her donor and admirer, Donald Trump, who shares just about everything in common with Hillary Clinton except a different pool of suckers to rob. I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: The GOP can nominate Trump and rob itself of any value–win or lose against Hillary–or it can stand for something. I’d rather stand for something, and if that makes me a bad Republican (or not a Republican at all), so be it.