The numbers are in for the Donald Trump Foundation’s donations in 2016. For the first time ever, he gave millions to veterans’ groups– per the January 2016 telethon he held to raise money for the vets instead of participating in a presidential debate.
In all, Trump gave away just over $3 million. But he did it using other people’s money: $1 million from Marvel Comics chairman Ike Perlmutter and wife Laura; $1 million from Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin; $100,000 from daughter Ivanka Trump; $50,000 from backer and New York developer Steve Roth; and $50,000 from John J. Cafaro, an Ohio real estate developer who pleaded guilty in 2004 to federal charges of lying to the US government about a political donation.
This is the same way Trump has always operated his foundation. In past years I’ve reported that the money he gave to charity came from others, not from his own pocket.
The numbers of Trump’s 2016 donations don’t line up exactly with the numbers announced in July 2016 when the then presidential candidate had to reveal who was getting the money. And what’s telling about this is that almost none of the money came from him– it all came from those outside donations. In past years, the Donald J. Trump Foundation was rarely a donor to veterans’ groups at all.
There’s one strange footnote to the Foundation’s official Form 990 for 2016: they say made a donation to an unnamed veterans’ group in May 2016. But then the Trump Foundation discovered that that group was not eligible to receive funds. So they asked for the money back. But the vets’ group said they’d already distributed the money to other veterans’ charities.
Overall, almost none of the 32 vets’ groups which received the Ruffin-Perlmutter money never received donations from the Donald Trump Foundation before this year. Curiously, Trump himself cut back on all the regular charities he’s donated to in the past, save for New York’s Columbia Grammar Preparatory School, which his son Barron attended ($50,000). Otherwise, none of the foundations or charities that received the average $800,000 or $900,000 annually from the Trump Foundation received a penny.
For example, in 2015 Trump gave substantial donations to the Salvation Army, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the Red Cross and so on. He even gave $100,000 to Comic Relief to help the homeless. Alas, one of the few holdovers was Columbia Grammar.
One other note: after the 2016 telethon, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks (now director of White House communications) said “money was still coming in.” In fact, no more money came in. These were the donors, period.