According to a bombshell report from the Washington Post, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump not only doesn't contribute any of his own money to his charity The Trump Foundation, he also used $20,000 of donor money to buy a six-foot painting of himself.
For months, the Post's David Farenthold has devoted himself to finding and verifying Trump's often-boasted-about charitable donations.
“I don’t have to give you records,” Trump said to the Post in May, “but I’ve given millions away.”
Armed with spiral notebooks, ballpoint pens and a telephone, Farenthold has called charity after charity and found virtually no evidence of Trump ever reaching into his own pocket to donate. In fact, Trump's usual version of charitable giving involves soliciting donations to the Trump Foundation and then, essentially, re-gifting that money to other charities, foundations and political campaigns.
"(N)early all of its money comes from people other than Trump," Farenthold said. "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’s foundation appears to have repeatedly broken IRS rules, which require nonprofit groups to file accurate paperwork," wrote Farenthold Saturday. "In five cases, the Trump Foundation told the IRS that it had given a gift to a charity whose leaders told The Post that they had never received it. In two other cases, companies listed as donors to the Trump Foundation told The Post that those listings were incorrect."
Farenhold described the Trump Foundation as a "threadbare, skeletal" operation. Its only employees and administrators are Trump, his sons Eric and Donald Jr., daughter Ivanaka and one other administrator.
The foundation makes dozens small gifts each year, all of which comes from donors other than the Trump family. However, occasionally Trump will dip into the foundation's holdings to buy things for himself.
"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," Farenthold said.
The New York Daily News revealed on Saturday that Trump told an easily-debunked lie about receiving $150,000 in government funds for his efforts to rebuild the city's small businesses in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.
The Empire State Development Corp. -- which disbursed funds in the wake of the attacks -- told the Daily News that Trump did take funds from taxpayer funds, but did not use them for other businesses. New York law allowed companies like Trump's and investment firm Morgan Stanley and the Bank of China to call themselves small business and help themselves to government handouts.
The Trump Foundation's donations to Republican Florida Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi have come under intense scrutiny of late, given that it appears that the former reality TV star gave Bondi's re-election campaign $25,000 to halt an investigation to the wide-ranging scam Trump University. Trump University purported to be a series of seminars on how to become a real estate magnate.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's Office released a statement this week that said that its research into Trump University showed that the company was neither managed by Trump himself nor a university.
"It's fraud. This is just straight up fraud," Schneiderman said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "It's like selling people something you say is a Mercedes and it turns out to be a Volkswagen. And even if some people say, 'Well I actually kind of like the Volkswagen,' it's still fraud, because it's not a Mercedes. This is not a university. And in New York, we are a little sensitive -- you can't just put up a sign saying Scarborough Hospital, Scarborough University, Scarborough Law Firm."
CNN said, "Trump is currently facing three separate lawsuits -- two class action suits filed in California and one in New York by [state Attorney Gen. Eric] Schneiderman -- which argue the program that took in an estimated $40 million, but was mired in fraud and deception."
A tweet featuring the painting -- with slightly edited hands -- in its ornate frame at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort is embedded below: