An article in Forbes Magazine about the Trump Organization allegedly using Eric Trump’s charity to skim funds and direct them back to the company has caused outrage, both from Eric Trump, who insists there is no truth to it, and those who object to the idea of children’s charities being used to launder money for billionaires.
Eric Trump’s charity, the Eric Trump Foundation, was meant to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by holding charity golf tournaments.
Trump had boasted in a video about the money being saved by using the Trump golfing facilities to hold the tournaments.
Seriously, you’d think that by holding the tournaments on family property, the costs would be minimal, right?
That was the pitch, along with the notion that nearly every penny raised would go straight to the charity.
Except that’s not how it worked out.
According to IRS filings, the Eric Trump Foundation in 2012 spent $59,085 on its annual Golf Invitational fundraiser held at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York — money that skimmed from donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Those expenses ballooned to $230,080 in 2013 and to $242,294 in 2014, according to the filings. It is unclear from these tax forms how much of those payments went to the Trump Organization.
Forbes reported that in 2011, costs for Eric Trump’s golf tournament fundraiser tripled because his father realized that the organization had not been charging for the event and there were no bills to prove it. The Foundation declined to provide Forbes with an itemized list of expenses for the tournament.
Charity experts told Forbes that the amount paid to the Trump Organization for a golf tournament fundraiser for St. Jude’s “defy any reasonable cost.”
The article also points out that the increase in costs seems to coincide with the point in time when the Eric Trump Foundation’s board membership switched from being made up of friends of Eric Trump to those connected financially to the Trump Organization, such as Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, and Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino Jr.
In addition, the Forbes report claims that Eric Trump’s charity redirected some donations. More than $500,000 was given by the Eric Trump Foundation to other charities, “many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests,” according to Forbes.
A spokesman for Eric Trump defended the Foundation, saying the Eric Trump Foundation had raised over $16.3 million for St. Jude’s over the past decade, with an expense ratio of 12.3 percent. The spokesman also touted the $20 million ICU facility for treating children with catastrophic illnesses.
The spokesman goes on to deny any wrongdoing or intent by the Trump Organization to benefit from the charity.
And there may have been nothing but noble intent on the part of Eric Trump. Once his father’s associates became involved, however, that’s when things began to go sideways.