President Donald Trump’s son Eric has long assured donors that his eponymous foundation uses Trump Organization “assets 100 percent free of charge,” ensuring more of their money goes straight to helping kids suffering from cancer. But in a report published Tuesday, Forbes found that wasn’t true.
For the past decade, the Eric Trump Foundation has raised money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through an annual fundraiser at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York. Each year, the Foundation uses the golf course for free while getting many of the fundraiser’s other costs comped, Eric Trump — who now co-leads the Trump Organization — told Forbes. But filings reviewed by Forbes belie Trump’s claims: According to the magazine, the Eric Trump Foundation has actually paid the Trump Organization more than $1.2 million over the last six years to use its properties for fundraising events.
Two people told Forbes that this was because Trump insisted his son pay to use the golf course for the charity event.
“Mr. Trump had a cow. He flipped,” when he found out the foundation was using his facilities for free, former Trump National Westchester employee Ian Gillule told Forbes. “He was like, ‘We’re donating all of this stuff, and there’s no paper trail? No credit?’ And he went nuts. He said, ‘I don’t care if it’s my son or not — everybody gets billed.’ ”
It’s an unfortunate cloud over Eric Trump’s charitable work — he has reportedly donated millions to St. Jude’s, as he pointed out on Twitter following publication of the Forbes report.
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) June 6, 2017
But after several people connected to the Trump family or the Trump Organization joined the Eric Trump Foundation’s board, the foundation also started re-donating its donors’ contributions without telling them. Of the $500,000 that the Eric Trump Foundation re-donated over the years, thousands went to charities connected to Trump interests and family members, Forbes reported. Many of those charities also reportedly later paid to use Trump properties to host their own fundraisers.
At the very least, Forbes’ report looks bad for Eric Trump, who has stepped away from fundraising amid concerns about appearing to profit off his father’s presidency. At the worst, Eric Trump may have violated laws against self-dealing and misleading donors. Plus, it seems as though he failed to donate money he’d publicly promised to hand over to sick kids.
This isn’t the first time the Trump family has been accused of self-dealing and failing to deliver on its charitable pledges. Last year, the Washington Post found that Donald Trump had given away only about $7.8 million from his own pocket in the past few decades, despite Trump’s repeated promises to give away millions more. Trump has also reportedly used his Donald J. Trump Foundation, which he had given relatively little to, to pay for his own expenses, such as settling lawsuits and buying massive portraits of himself — one of which, as of October 2016, hung in a Trump property.