September 12, 2016

In the current maelstrom of media handwringing over 'deplorables' and Clinton's pneumonia, David Fahrenthold's bombshell report for the Washington Post has fallen into third place, but it definitely should not.

According to Fahrenthold, Trump's charity does not give any of Trump's money. It is, instead, used as a pass-through from other people to charities. This is perfectly legal, but it belies his claim that he gives millions to charities.

Worse yet, there are five contributions to charities which the Foundation claims it sent, but which were not received. The largest contribution has already been explained -- it is the $25,000 impermissible donation sent to Pam Bondi shortly after she decided not to investigate Trump University.

But four others are still unexplained.

Here they are:

  1. 2008- $10,000 to Giving Back Fund - When contacted, the charity said they had never received the donation reported, and have contacted the Trump Foundation to receive said donation. If the books were being kept properly, this would have been carried as a grant payable for as long as the check wasn't cashed. The fact that they reported it as a grant paid in 2008 when it was not in fact paid suggests that $10,000 went to someone somewhere who was not the Giving Back Fund.
  2. 2010 - $5,000 to Children's Medical Center in Omaha - Again, when contacted they said they had no record of receiving the donation, nor did they have the Trump Foundation in their database. And again, this suggests that $5,000 left the Foundation's accounts, but it did not go to the entity they said it went to.
  3. 2012 - $10,000 to Latino Commission on AIDS - Yes, don't let the irony escape you. According to Fahrenthold, this was "a gift Trump promised on air during a taping of 'The Celebrity Apprentice.'" And once again, the funds were not received, by the designated charity, yet according to their accounting, they were indeed disbursed
  4. 2013 - $1,000 to Friends of Veterans, an organization that helps homeless veterans. This donation was related to a promise Trump made to donate to veterans organizations after he skipped the Fox debate during the primaries. The charity was listed on Trump's list of charities he would donate to, but he never sent them a penny, including this phantom donation of $1,000. And once again, those funds went somewhere, or else their accounting is suspect.

Additionally, a $20,000 contribution was given to purchase a 6-foot painting of....himself.

Here's the thing. In the greater scheme of things, these are pretty small potato contributions, unless you're the charity relying on the largesse of the public to survive, anyway. But they might help a struggling politician with a lower profile than Bondi. They might serve as enough to bribe someone. Or, they might have been ways to siphon off some pocket money.

We don't know. And the reason we don't know is because the books are not properly audited. There is absolutely no way that grants reported but not paid would result in a proper balance sheet without also reporting that they are still payable. The funds went out, just like they did to Bondi's campaign. They just didn't go out to the person who they said they paid.

This is what we call a real scandal right here. And it's one that deserves the kind of close media scrutiny given to Hillary Clinton's pneumonia, public statements, emails, and the Clinton Foundation.

Thankfully, David Fahrenthold appears to be up to the task. Is anyone else?

Update 9/13:

The Giving Back Foundation checked another database and found their contribution.

The Latino Commission on AIDS also checked a different place and found that they had received it after all.

That leaves 2 -- Children's Medical Center and the Friends of Veterans.

Can you help us out?

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