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After sustained outcry about his foundation providing big-money donors access to the incoming presidential family, Eric Trump finally announced Thursday that he will suspend all operations of his charitable foundation. Donald Trump, on a brief respite from using Twitter to promote a nuclear arms race or whine about celebrities hating him, used the opportunity to complain about his family being treated like every other clan that has occupied the White House writing, “My wonderful son, Eric, will no longer be allowed to raise money for children with cancer because of a possible conflict of interest with my presidency. Isn't this a ridiculous shame? He loves these kids, has raised millions of dollars for them, and now must stop. Wrong answer!”
This seems like a good time to revisit the findings of a recent Daily Beast investigation into the dealings of the Eric Trump Foundation. The outlet concluded that “the Eric Trump Foundation [paid] hundreds of thousands over the last 10 years to host lavish fundraising events at Donald Trump’s golf courses:
In promotional videos and press releases, ETF touts a 95 to 100 percent donation ratio and implies that by benefit of being a Trump, namesake properties are handed over for charity events at little or no cost. But according to a Daily Beast analysis of annual IRS reports and New York state financial disclosures from the charity’s inception in 2007 to 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, ETF spent $881,779 on its annual Golf Invitational at Trump-owned clubs, a portion of which—$100,000 in 2013 and $88,000 in 2014—was reported as paid directly “to a company of a family member of the Board of Directors.” In other words, Donald Trump himself.
Philip Hackney, who teaches law at Louisiana State University and previously worked in the IRS’ Exempt Organizations unit, told the Daily Beast there is “nothing necessarily wrong with contracting with businesses you own.” However, there are issues around Eric Trump’s previous claims that the charity sent nearly 100 percent of donations to its intended recipient, St. Jude’s hospital, while not publicly acknowledging that a portion of funds ended up going to the Trump Organization.
“There’s a question, maybe not of the legality, but of the ethics of it,” Hackney said.
Source: Daily Beast
Eric Trump’s announcement of the suspension of activity by his foundation came after numerous outlets raised critical questions about the ethical implications of the organization’s recent fundraisers. Auctions since the election have offered donors the chance to meet with the president-elect, as well as other members of the Trump family, in exchange for massive donations to the Eric Trump Foundation. In recent weeks, the charity has advertised fundraisers selling everything from a coffee date with Ivanka Trump to a meeting with Donald Trump for $500,000. After a presidential campaign in which Trump repeatedly accused opponent Hillary Clinton of using pay-to-play tactics with her own family foundation, the auctions seemed not just hypocritical, but a huge conflict of interest.
The Daily Beast does note that according to tax records, the Eric Trump Foundation has raised a hefty amount—$13 million—for St. Jude’s hospital, which treats children with cancer.
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