The director of a small nonprofit dedicated to serving New Hampshire veterans turned down a $100,000 check — which would have covered a third of their budget –from Donald Trump because he didn’t want his organization to be a prop for the billionaire’s campaign.
The Trump campaign has taken heat for staging an event at the same time as a GOP debate the candidate was boycotting –with the ostensible reason of raising money for veteran organizations. Veterans groups called it a “political stunt,” with some claiming they wouldn’t accept any donations from the campaign or the Trump Foundation.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, Liberty House executive director Keith Howard claimed he received a call from a Trump campaign staffer on Friday stating the candidate would like to present the Manchester charity with a big check at a Monday rally — hours before New Hampshire primary voters went to the polls.
Howard told the campaign: “No.”
According to the director, he doesn’t believe that his charity — which provides housing, food and clothing to vets in need — should be bribed with money by candidates to become a prop at a political rally.
“This is not directed at the Trump campaign,” Howard explained. “This is about any campaign.”
Howard also stated that appearing at the political rally could jeopardize his group’s nonprofit status, while noting that the call came from Trump’s campaign and not from the candidate’s charitable foundation.
A political campaign legal expert confirmed the risk of appearing in return for cash.
“The campaign utilizing the foundation to help support and promote campaign events is a potential legal problem for both the campaign and the Trump Foundation,” explained Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center.
After calling the campaign staffer back and stating that his group would not participate, Howard said that he told them he would take Trump’s money — but only if presented through the proper channels and without the political rally trappings.
The campaign relented on Saturday, agreeing to give the check to Trump supporter and New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro who said he will pass along the money in private and after the primary.
According to Howard, that is a win for the vets.
“Liberty House got the mountain to move to us, instead of us going to the mountain of cash,” Howard explained. “I can take pride that we maintained our position. I am glad that the Trump campaign has found a way to follow through on what it promised to do.”