The Eric Trump Foundation is ‘dedicated to raising money for terminally-ill children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee,’ according to its website. However, it appears that an increasing amount of that money ending up not with sick children, but instead in Donald J. Trump’s bank account.
A recent story on Forbes.com, titled ‘How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business,’ analyzes the funds raised by Eric Trump for children’s cancer research, and the subsequent re-donation of more than half a million dollars to other charities, many of which had connections with the Trump family. These secondary donations were allocated to ‘at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses,’ according to the article.
Eric Trump has directed more than $11 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Eric Trump has stressed the charity’s ‘efficiency,’ telling Forbes that they ‘get to use our assets 100% free of charge,’ including the use of the Trump National Golf Club for charity events. However, according to the article, Donald J. Trump was not happy when he found out his son had been using the facility for free – from that point on, his son was billed like everyone else. This bill – new or otherwise – led to the cost of Eric Trump Foundation golf tournaments to jump from $59,000 to a reported $322,000 from 2012 to 2015, according to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filings cited in the story.
The article described the relationship between the Eric Trump Foundation and the Donald J. Trump foundation as ‘more in line with a drug cartel’s money laundering operation than charitable best practices.’ The makeup of the Eric Trump Foundation’s board potentially adds an additional reason for skepticism: six of the 14 members are ‘effectively’ full-time employees of the Trump Organization, according to the article; a seventh member owns a company ‘that billed the Trump campaign $16 million; and Eric Trump, along with his wife, Lara, also sit on the board. That makes nine of the 17 board members for the foundation with personal interests into the financial gain of the foundation – upon which much of their livelihoods depend.
This is not the first time that the Donald J. Trump organization has come under scrutiny. An article in Newsweek cites that the Trump Foundation ‘admitted to violating a legal prohibition on ‘self-dealing,’ or using money meant for a nonprofit to benefit its leader,’ following the presidential election in November 2016. A story from The Washington Post earlier that same month explored Trump’s use of $20,000 – paid for with money from the Donald J. Trump Foundation – to buy a six-foot portrait of himself.
The Trump Organization ‘declined to answer detailed questions’ about payments from the Eric Trump Foundation, according to Forbes. A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization told CNBC, ‘Contrary to recent reports, at no time did the Trump Organization profit in any way from the foundation or any of its activities.’