July 19, 2016; Philadelphia Inquirer
As if Donald Trump did not misspeak enough on his own about his charitable donations, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is weighing in as his proxy, saying Trump offered a generous donation to Mary Pat Christie’s $41 million charity for victims of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. After reporters had searched in vain for a record of the donation, Christie’s office said the “governor misspoke.”
Christie made the statement while speaking in the Cleveland area, where the Republican National Convention is in progress this week. Christie described Trump as “extraordinarily generous,” saying that one of his wife’s first fundraising calls in the wake of Sandy was to Trump.
“It wasn’t a long phone call,” Christie said. “Mary Pat, I like Chris, but I’m scared of you.” Trump is reported to have said. “How much does the check need to be? Just tell me and I’ll send it.”
The Donald J. Trump Foundation reportedly made a grant of $20,000 to Drumthwacket, the official gubernatorial mansion in Princeton for that year, but no grant was apparently awarded for Sandy relief. And, of course, Trump has not donated his own money to his namesake foundation since 2009, so any contributions from the foundation would not have come out of his pocket, anyway.
This incident follows a claim made by the candidate’s son that the Washington Post described:
Eric Trump, the son of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, said in an interview Wednesday that his father gives “millions and millions and millions” of his own money to charity—including hundreds of thousands to Eric Trump’s own charitable foundation.
After making that assertion, Eric Trump was asked if he would provide details of his father’s gifts to the Eric Trump Foundation, to confirm that they really exist.
Eric Trump said he would check.
Several hours later, he wrote back. He would not.
“We are going to maintain anonymity,” Eric Trump wrote in an email message. “Hope you understand.”
The problem with raising anonymity as an issue, which has occurred more than once in one of these veil dances, is that Trump advocates are the ones re-raising concerns about the candidate’s philanthropic claims versus reality by their persistent habit of praising Trump for charitable deeds that cannot be confirmed. In other words, if you wish to use charitable activities as an element of your campaign, you have to be ready to have those contributions confirmed. Of course, if we were able to see those tax returns, there might be some clue to donations made from his own money.—Ruth McCambridge