A breaking Forbes report alludes the Trump Organization took money dedicated for cancer-stricken kids, through a charity golf tournament happening each September at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York.
The golf tournament that raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis is hosted by Eric Trump through his non-profit, the Eric Trump Foundation. It attracts lots of commercial real estate developers, the occasional celebrity and Trump’s family friends who buy the $3,000 tickets to partake in the 18 roles of golf, dinner and evening of elitist schmoozing. The golf tournament which began in 2007 has to date sent $11 million to St. Jude’s.
One would think that since it’s Eric Trump’s organization hosting the tournament on a golf course with his last name, that expenses would be covered and nearly all funds raised were going towards charity. That’s at least what Eric Trump told Forbes: “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge.”
The Internal Revenue Service, however, begs to differ.
In Forbes research, IRS fillings show that the Trump National Golf Club started charging the Eric Trump Foundation tens of thousands of dollars that eventually ballooned to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was Donald Trump himself who ordered the golf club to charge the non-profit for the event, after angrily learning about the free ride.
“Mr. Trump had a cow,” Ian Gillule, a former membership and marketing director at Trump National Westchester said. “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.'”
While the cost of the first four golf tournaments from 2007-2011 were around $50,000 each, the cost jumped up to $142,000 the following year, and to $322,000 in 2015. Eric Trump said that the golf course was always comped, wine and liquor was usually donated and celebrity performers like Gilbert Gottfried offered to perform for free. “Our expenses on a tournament that made us somewhere in the $2 million range every year was somewhere around 100 grand,” said Eric Trump. The Eric Trump Foundation declined to provide an itemized list of expenses.
The cost for such a radical increase stumped golf tournament experts and club employees. “If you gave me that much money to run a tournament, I couldn’t imagine what we could do,” Patrick Langan, who worked at the club from 2006 to 2015, told Forbes. “It certainly wasn’t done that way.”
Undoubtedly, the high costs helped contribute to the $11 million raised, but more than $500,000 of the money raised by the Eric Trump Foundation was re-donated to other charities “connected to Trump family members or interests.” Some hosted tournaments on other Trump golf courses. In one instance, the Donald J. Trump Foundation donated $100,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation to pay for tournament costs. That money was then redistributed to Trump’s businesses.
In 2007, the Eric Trump Foundation’s seven-person board was made up of non-employee personal friends, and by 2015 nine of its seventeen board members had a personal financial stake in the Trump Organization. “You’re dealing with people talking about the event and the charity who also at the same time are thinking about it as a corporation and as a business,” Langan said. “It’s a for-profit club. You know, they’re trying to make money.”
Eric Trump eventually pulled out of the Forbes interview saying that he felt “a motive against either myself or my family” and fired back on Twitter after the story broke.
Last year, the Eric Trump Foundation donated $2.9 million according to St. Jude, and a new intensive-care unit with Eric Trump’s name on it was opened. He has since stepped down from the organization, which has been re-branded as Curetivity.