If Trump’s Charity Reflects the Man…

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August 2, 2015; PBS NewsHour, “The Rundown”

After the Associated Press reviewed Donald Trump’s financial records and other government filings, it has come to the following conclusions about his claims to charitable contributions over the past five years:

  • They may be overstated.
  • Even if they were accurate, they’re relatively chintzy.
  • They’re often connected to some kind of celebrity.
  • In some cases, Trump himself is the primary beneficiary.

Though there is little documentation for it, Trump claims to have over the past five years given $102 million worth of cash and land to charity. But those gifts have not been made through the Donald J. Trump foundation, at least not since 2008. The only grants made through the foundation have been made because of contributions from others.

The AP acknowledges that Trump may be making tons of anonymous gifts, but that is hard to know since he has not yet released his tax returns. A “partial list of donations” provided by Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks essentially jibes with the Trump foundation’s gifts. AP suggests this may mean Trump is counting charitable giving by others through his foundation as part of his total.

Trump did not respond to an inquiry about donations he personally gave. He did, however, have something more general to say about his generosity. “I give to hundreds of charities and people in need of help,” Trump said to AP in an emailed response. “It is one of the things I most like doing and one of the great reasons to have made a lot of money.”

However, Trump’s cash donations make up only approximately ten percent of what he claims to have given, with land donations making up the difference. The AP suggests these donations may end up benefiting Trump in significant ways. One such deal had Trump promising he would never develop luxury homes on the driving range of the Trump National Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, thus claiming an easement which will provide Trump with a major tax deduction. Of course, writes AP, “City planning documents indicate Trump had no plans to use the land for anything other but a driving range—which he will continue to do under the terms of the easement.”

Dean Zerbe, a tax attorney for Alliant Group of Houston who previously headed an investigation into easement write-offs for the Senate Finance Committee, comments, “It’s shocking how much you see in the way of golf easements. […] Are we comfortable that this is something we want to subsidize with tax policy?

Trump’s politics are no more consistent in his giving than anywhere else. He has donated both to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, a decidedly anti-gay organization. And his love of celebrity is just as evident in donations to the Ronald Reagan Foundation, the Clinton Foundation, and charities associated with Joe Torre, Larry King, and Arnold Palmer. Among his donations are $10,000 to Jenny McCarthy’s Generation Rescue, which champions the theory that vaccines cause autism, and $1,000 to the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project cofounded by Tom Cruise, which offered free Scientology-based cleansing to 9/11 first responders.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Curt Pangracs

    Just curious, but how much, as a percentage of their income, does the writer of this article give to charity? Further, who actually thinks berating someone for not giving what YOU think is “enough” will increase their giving? Charity is freely given at the choosing of the contributor, and even if they give NOTHING, it is no one’s place to criticize another for their giving practices. You should all be ashamed.

    • Red West

      When a man claims to be worth 10 billion, and claims that “charitable giving is one of my greatest joys”… uh… yeah. They have every right (and an obligation given he’s making these claims in support of his pursuit of the most powerful office in the world) to ask him to prove it. If you don’t like facts, then just keep drinking the Kool Aid and pull that lever when fearless leader tells you to. But telling people they should be ashamed for calling “bullshit” on “bullshit”? You should be embarrassed.

    • Russ Farnsworth

      The issue with Trumps giving (or lack thereof–he actually gets giant tax breaks that gives him a net gain) is that we are now supposed to believe that he is running for president to make the country better for all of us. Trump has never in his life given anything to anyone, selflessly. He donates land for a park and stipulates that his name be prominently displayed at every entrance. The real story here is that Trump is running for president for HIM. Not for us. Not for anyone’s benefit but his own. People who vote for him are bound to feel double-crossed.

      • cbarr

        based on?.so you know him personally?… it kills me how people ill wantonly bash someone without any knowledge other than maybe what suits their agenda. How about the Wollman Rink?..just one tiny great story of how a businessman /private enterprises can and do put our lovely bloated gov’s to shame… it is my hope that for once Americans can break out of the hold that the political class has kept on our country much to everyone’s detriment..time to break free. oh, I know it was not a classic charity act but certainly one reflecting what can and should and needs to be done.
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/offwhitepapers/2015/08/24/donald-trump-and-the-wollman-rinking-of-american-politics/#79b511e226b2

        • Russ Farnsworth

          Based on reading a multitude of articles by noted Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalists like David Cay Johnston and Greg Palast. Do you know Trump personally? I didn’t think so. The best we can do is absorb the information provided by journalists with integrity and make an informed judgment. That’s pretty easy with Trump. And where are Trump’s taxes??? It would make the decision a lot easier for a lot of people if Trump would release them but he refuses to. There is nothing to prevent him from releasing them. Even his lame “audit” excuse, only covers tax years after 2011. It kills me that people will take a politician’s word for what they do and what they’re about, rather than demand more information on which they could make a sound decision.

  • Sean Gallagher

    Well-said. The man is a narcissist and a psycho, I can’t believe that he has the support of so many people in his run for president.

  • Taka Hike

    notice ruth, the writer of this is a JEW and we know they are rarely honest.. they are mad cause they cant buy or conrol trump

  • Renee DaSinger

    Donald Trump has consistently stated since the late 70’s when asked if he would run for President that he was not interested and that he believes someone will step up and be a good leader. Time passed it was 1989 in an interview with Oprah the question gets raised again after he gave his opinion on our government. He responded with “I have no inclination to do that, I like what i do, I really like it but if America keeps getting ripped off I won’t rule it out” Time goes on he is asked again in the 90’s he said he is far too busy to consider running. He talks about opposing the Iraq war and is asked yet again if he will run and he said he trusts the American people to vote in a good leader. Over and over throughout the years he was asked and declined until Obama gets a second term and he lets the people down and he said he was really hoping that Obama would be a cheerleader for the American people but he has been terrible. He said he needs to be more transparent with the American people, he challenged his citizenship, Obama’s people produced a live birth certificate from Hawaii and Trump dropped the subject even though skepticism remained. There were rumors he would run but nothing was confirmed until 2016.
    So no he isn’t in it for himself, he’s been saying the same thing over and over again that he is tired of seeing America ripped off, he is tired of our military getting screwed and the American people being taken advantage of, he is tired of the Government controlling the people. That my friend is when he threw his hat in the ring and he is the voice of the people, he is real, and thank God very rich and cannot be bought like the other candidates.
    You may hate him for being rich, maybe envious or jealous but think of how it works to our advantage as Americans that we can have someone run who loves this country and can’t be bought!

    • Russ Farnsworth

      One born every minute.

    • Freethinker

      “He said he needs to be more transparent with the American people.” Trump needs to walk his talk and produce his tax returns like every other candidate for POTUS by the two major parties.

  • rouge1

    Curt if it’s no big deal then why lie? It’s more about his lack of truth and character.