How Donald Trump retooled his charity to spend other people’s money

David A. Fahrenthold, How Donald Trump retooled his charity to spend other people’s money. The Washington Post, 10 September 2016. “The Donald J. Trump Foundation is not like other charities. An investigation of the foundation — including examinations of 17 years of tax filings and interviews with more than 200 individuals or groups listed as donors or beneficiaries — found that it collects and spends money in a very unusual manner. For one thing, nearly all of its money comes from people other than Trump. In tax records, the last gift from Trump was in 2008. Since then, all of the donations have been other people’s money — an arrangement that experts say is almost unheard of for a family foundation. Trump then takes that money and generally does with it as he pleases. In many cases, he passes it on to other charities, which often are under the impression that it is Trump’s own money.”

In two cases, he has used money from his charity to buy himself a gift. In one of those cases — not previously reported — Trump spent $20,000 of money earmarked for charitable purposes to buy a six-foot-tall painting of himself.

Money from the Trump Foundation has also been used for political purposes, which is against the law. The Washington Post reported this month that Trump paid a penalty this year to the Internal Revenue Service for a 2013 donation in which the foundation gave $25,000 to a campaign group affiliated with Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi (R)….

Trump has claimed that he gives generously to charity from his own pocket: “I don’t have to give you records,” he told The Post earlier this year, “but I’ve given millions away.” Efforts to verify those gifts have not succeeded, and Trump has refused to release his tax returns, which would show his charitable giving.

That leaves the Trump Foundation as the best window into the GOP nominee’s philanthropy.

In the past several days [early September 2016], questions about Trump’s foundation have focused on the gift to Bondi’s group in 2013. At the time the money arrived, Bondi’s office was considering whether to launch an investigation into allegations of fraud by Trump University — accusations that Trump denies.

The investigation never started. Aides to Bondi and Trump say the gift and the case were unrelated. But Democrats have seized on what they see as a clear example of political influence improperly funded by Trump’s charity.

Related: Robert Faturechi, Fact-checking Donald Trump’s Charity Claims. ProPublica, 12 September 2016. “Donald Trump says he has donated millions to charity. Earlier this year, Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold set out to prove him right. But finding evidence to support Trump’s claims turned out to be surprisingly difficult. The Republican presidential nominee provided few details. His campaign offered little help. Even Trump’s son, Eric, who runs his own charitable foundation, couldn’t cite specific donations. Fahrenthold reached out to dozens of charities, and took to Twitter, asking his followers for leads. Despite his exhaustive efforts, he hasn’t been able to come close to accounting for the $8.5 million Trump publicly pledged over a 15-year period. The lack of evidence to support Trump’s claims has raised questions about Trump’s honesty – and just how charitable the self-described billionaire has actually been.”