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Politics

Donald Trump Profited from Kids Cancer Charity Fundraiser: Report

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President Donald Trump speaks to U.S. military troops at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Saturday, May 27, 2017, in Sigonella, Italy.

When people had signed up for the Eric Trump Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser, a golf outing and dinner at a Trump golf course in Weschester County, New York, they understood their donations would go to help fight children’s cancer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

And much of the donations had: Eric Trump has helped raise and donate more than $11 million to St. Jude’s, the vast majority of it via this annual golf event, according to Forbes.

Eric has claimed the golf course and most of the other costs associated with the fundraiser were donated, so that more money could benefit the sick kids.

“We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” Eric told Forbes.

But according to the outlet, not only was the course and other assets not “free of charge,” but Donald Trump also allegedly used donations to make money for the Trump Organization at the expense of kids with cancer.

The president “specifically commanded that the for-profit Trump Organization start billing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the non-profit Eric Trump Foundation,” according to Forbes.

The Trump Organization received payments for the use of the golf course, “part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization,” per Forbes. Golf charity experts told the outlet that the listed expenses “defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.”

Also, more than $500,000 in donations that donors believed were going to help kids with cancer at St. Judes were actually given to other charities, “many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses,” Forbes reports.

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In addition, Forbes discovered, the Donald J. Trump Foundation “apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations” back to the Trump Organization as revenue.  

“All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors,” Forbes reports.

The tournament began in 2007, and for the first four years to 2010, the total annual expenses averaged about $50,000, according to the tax filings reviewed by Forbes.

“Not quite the zero-cost advantage that a donor might expect given who owned the club but at least in line with what other charities pay to host outings at Trump courses,” Forbes reported.

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But beginning in 2011, the expenses shot up, reaching $322,000 for 2015, according to the the most recent IRS filing on record, according to Forbes.

“Even if the Eric Trump Foundation had to pay the full rate for literally everything, Forbes couldn’t come up with a plausible path to $322,000 given the parameters of the annual event (a golf outing for about 200 and dinner for perhaps 400 more),” Dan Alexander writes. “Neither could golf tournament experts or the former head golf professional at Trump National Westchester.”

In December, Eric announced he would stop fundraising. The foundation changed its named to Curetivity and continue to hold golf tournaments to raise money for St. Jude, Forbes reports.

Eric reacted to harsh criticism that followed the story’s publication with a tweet.

“‘I have raised $16.3 million dollars for terminally ill children at @StJude with less than a 12.3% expense ratio. What have you done today?!” Eric said.

The New York Times columnist Nick Kristof tweeted, “It’s one thing to rip off contractors or even voters. But kids with cancer? Really, Mr. President?”

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, who won a Pulitzer prize largely for his reporting that uncovered the president’s untruths about donating to charities, tweeted, “I’m just writing something up about how this great@forbes story contradicts what@EricTrump told me last yr.”

And Susan Odell, who describes herself as a mom to three boys, tweeted, “Just so wrong. Ask any parent who has a child with cancer. When you think it can’t get any worse…”

On Tuesday, Eric Trump also criticized Democrats who support the investigation into his father’s campaign and Russia, calling them “not even people.”

Actress Alyssa Milano, a vocal Trump critic, fired back in a tweet:

“Your father’s approval rating is 38% @EricTrump. That means the majority of Americans are ‘not even people’?!?”