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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 23, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 39
Trump's a crook, WaPo says
Section One
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Trump's a crook, WaPo says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Donald Trump used money from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits against his for-profit businesses, according to a Washington Post investigative story by reporter David A Fahrenthold.

Fahrenthold documents four newly discovered cases in which Trump used some $264,000 of Trump Foundation money to pay off legal settlements and other businesses expenses.

In one case, Trump agreed to donate money to a separate charity in order to settle fines levied by Palm Beach, Fla. Town officials charged Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort with violating local codes when a flag pole was installed that was nearly twice as tall as allowed.

The town began to fine Trump $1,250 a day. Trump's then sued Palm Beach in federal court, saying that a smaller flag 'would fail to appropriately express the magnitude of Donald J. Trump's patriotism.'

To settle the suit, Trump agreed to donate $100,000 to a veterans' charity, but the money came from the Trump Foundation rather than the for-profit resort.

In another case described by the Washington Post, Trump was sued by the winner of a hole-in-one contest at one of his golf courses for refusing to pay the man the million-dollar prize he expected, and subsequently agreed to pay $158,000 to a charity to settle the suit.

The money was paid by the Trump Foundation in this case, too.

Trump also used Foundation money to pay for business expenses.

In 2013, Trump used $5,000 from the charity to buy advertisements touting his chain of hotels, and in 2014, Trump spent $10,000 of the foundation's money on a portrait of himself bought at a charity fundraiser.

This is in addition to the $20,000, six-foot portrait of Trump - also bought with Trump Foundation money - that Trump acquired in 2007.

If the payouts documented by Fahrenholdt did, in fact, happen, they would violate federal tax rules against what is called 'self-dealing,' in other words using charitable contributions for private purposes.

If the IRS finds that Trump violated rules against self-dealing, it could fine him and require him to reimburse the Trump Foundation for the expenses it incurred on behalf of his business interests.

The latest revelations are not the first cases in which Trump is alleged to have used charity money to advance his personal interests.

A previous Washington Post story revealed that in 2013 the Trump Foundation gave $25,000 to a political group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. That gift was made about the same time that Bondi's office was considering whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. After the donation, Bondi dropped the investigation.

Trump created the Foundation in 1987 and at first was its only donor. But in 2006, Trump gave away almost all the money he had donated to the foundation, leaving it with just $4,238 at year's end, according to tax records.

Then, he transformed the Trump Foundation into a name-branded charity that took no donations from Trump himself but relied on contributions from his friends and business associates.

Trump gave relatively small donations in 2007 and 2008, but nothing after that. The foundation's tax records show no donations from Trump since 2009.

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