If Donald Trump’s proclamations about being a generous donor to charities are to be believed, records should show donations topping $8.5 million. But the actual evidence of his donations isn’t even close to that number – it’s actually between $5,000 and $10,000.
The Washington Post looked into charities linked to Trump after he finally kept his word to donate $1 million to military veterans, and found not much but dead ends. The billionaire has repeatedly promised to donate earnings from his books, vodka, steak line and TV show ‘The Apprentice’ to charities. But there is little to no evidence of those donations on the books. In the 15 years prior to the veterans’ donation, public records show that Trump donated about $2.8 million through a foundation — less than a third of the pledged amount — and nothing since 2009.
For a man who charges up to $1 million for a public speaking and says he gives away the fees to charity, there should be some kind of easily accessible record of it. 188 charities that were either praised by Trump, had galas attended by Trump or previously received a donation from the Trump foundation were recently contacted for proof of donations between 2008 and 2016. The only donation that turned up was a gift of between $5,000 and $9,999 to the Police Athletic League of NYC in 2009.
Some might blame Trump’s failure to follow through with charitable donations on poor business endeavors he placed his name on. Trump steaks, Trump vodka are both defunct at this point. A prime example of the billionaire putting his name on a product with earnings intended for charity, only to fall embarrassingly short is ‘Trump: The Game’. Yes, there was once a Donald Trump board game made, way back in 1988. Apparently, people were already satisfied pretending to be real estate moguls with Monopoly and the game mostly sat on the shelf. George DiTomassi, president of the game company at the time, blamed the lack of success on customers not being informed the proceeds went to charitable causes. “They felt perhaps this was going to be something that a millionaire would make some money on,” DiTomassi said. A voice-over stating the proceeds would be going to charity was later added at the end of the game’s commercial.
If Trump’s lackluster record for following through with charity wasn’t enough to prove he’s a fraud, there’s also the fact he has unpaid bills dating back three decades. Philadelphia cabinet-builder Edward Friel Jr. is one of 60 people suing Trump for failing to pay commissioned work. Friel’s son Paul had to watch his grandfather’s company go down the drain because of an unpaid bill of $83,600, for a job done on one of Trump’s Atlantic City casinos. “That began the demise of the Edward J. Friel Company,” he said.
Bottom line. While Trump has donated $3.8 million to charity since 2001 including his $1 million gift to veterans, he talks about giving to charity far more than he actually gives. As a reminder, when Trump launched his presidential campaign he claimed to have given away a staggering $102 million to charity within the last five years. His campaign compiled a list of 4,844 of them through 93 pages – pretty much resulting in the most boring account of patting oneself on the back ever. The only thing is none of those donations were from Trump’s own personal money, but from his golf courses’ charitable actions and donations from waived appearance fees.
Failure to follow through with charitable promises, and a refusal to release tax returns that would provide evidence of such gifts is certainly eyebrow-raising. But again, it wouldn’t be the first fraud Donald would be involved in. Trump university, anyone?