Eric Trump charity under increasing scrutiny over lies about who got money
The New York investigation into the charity run by one of Donald Trump’s sons is likely to expand in light of a new report by the journalist whose writing launched the probe.
Following a Dan Alexander report on “self-dealing” at the Eric Trump Foundation published by Forbes, New York Attorney General Eric Schneidermann opened an investigation.
That same investigative journalist, Dan Alexander, has another blockbuster expose on Eric Trump’s nonprofit telling prospective donors that their contributions would go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – while instead dispersing the funds raised to other entities.
“If you are raising money for X, and you give it to Y, that is fraud, even if Y is a charity,” James Fishman, a former assistant attorney general for the state of New York who now teaches at Pace University’s law school, told Forbes. “If I’m writing a check for somebody, and you give it to somebody else, I mean that is fraudulent.”
There appears to have been a pattern.
“As the charity donated more and more to disparate causes, its website increasingly gave the impression that everything was going to the hospital,” Alexander reported.
“Relevant donors whose money was given to causes other than St. Jude were made aware the funds would be donated elsewhere,” a spokesperson for the Eric Trump Foundation emailed to Forbes.
The initial investigation was launched when Forbes reported that $100,000 “passed through the Eric Trump Foundation–and wound up in the coffers of Donald Trump’s private businesses” and that “the Trump Organization received payments for [Trump National’s] use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization.”
“That appears on its face to be an indirect act of self-dealing,” Marcus Owens, former head of the nonprofit division of the IRS told me. pic.twitter.com/i04RofDWQZ
— Dan Alexander (@DanAlexander21) June 9, 2017
This is not the first time the Trump family has come under fire for their treatment of sick children. President Donald Trump allegedly withheld charitable donations from dying children.
“I sat next to Donald at a dinner one time at the Waldorf-Astoria for a charity event. This is three or four years ago. It was for a very rare children’s disease. The guy whose table it was, who was a friend of Donald and a friend of [Def Jam founder Russell Simmons], got onstage and pledged a million dollars to this charity and said to the audience in the Waldorf, ‘Who’s going to match me?’ And—I’ll go under oath, [swear on] my grandfather’s grave, may my grandfather rest in peace—Trump was sitting right next to me and he raised his hand. He was like, ‘A million bucks. I’m in!’” Michael Skolnik recalled. “And the whole place exploded in craziness. Here was $2 million raised in 15 seconds for this amazing charity. And David Fahrenthold from the Washington Post saw a picture of me at the event and called me during the election and said, ‘Do you remember what happened?’ I said, ‘Yeah, Donald pledged a million bucks, check it out.’ And he went and looked at it and Donald gave nothing. Literally zero dollars.”
In light of the latest revelations, the New York Attorney General’s investigation are expected to expand.
“If one represents that the funds are going to be used to benefit charity A and instead they go to charities B, C and D, that’s a misrepresentation,” Sean Delany, a former assistant attorney general who oversaw the charities bureau in the state of New York told Forbes. “A donor might choose to donate specifically because they care deeply about children’s cancer issues, or they care deeply about supporting St. Jude hospital in particular, and have no interest in supporting those other charities.”
In December, Eric Trump suspended operations of his controversial charity, which recently rebranded as Curetivity.
“The Foundation intends to cooperate fully with the Attorney General’s review,” an anonymous spokesperson told Alexander.
Watch Stephen Colbert on the Eric Trump foundation: