David Fahrenthold, the Washington Post reporter who won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for his investigation of Donald Trump charitable foundation, is still waiting for an answer to a question he raised in an email and tweet sent yesterday to Eric Trump, the president’s 33-year-old second son, who now co-runs the Trump Organization with his 39-year-old brother Donald Jr.
Fahrenthold was surprised when he read a new Forbes Magazine article titled, “How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business.”
Eric Trump has run a non-profit charity since 2007 which held an annual charity golf tournament and dinner that has raised over $16 million, mostly for St. Jude’s Research Hospital in Memphis, specifically for efforts to treat children with cancer.
In recent years, at least $1.2 million of that money raised was paid to the Trump Organization for use of the golf course and facilities, and a dinner for about 200 people who paid from $3,000 per person to $100,000 for a VIP pass for four to attend the event.
What surprised Fahrenthold was that last year Eric Trump had proudly told him that the Trumps donated the use of the golf course and other costs so that, as the charity had advertised, every dollar went to St. Jude’s to help sick children. That was published in July 2016 by The Washington Post.
“I just saw the Forbes story saying your charity actually did pay your dad’s company for rental of the course in those past years,” wrote Fahrenthold in his email to Eric Trump (which was posted on Twitter). “That surprised me, since you had told me categorically – and repeatedly – last year that he’d allowed you to use the course for free, and that the payments listed on the Eric Trump Foundation’s [tax filing] were just pass-throughs, in order to allow you to pay the vendors more easily.”
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) 06. јун 2017.
Eric Trump apparently has not responded directly to Fahrenthold, nor did he provide answers to all the questions Forbes raised in their article, including things that appear to be violations of IRS rules and tax law.
“The Donald J. Trump Foundation,” reports Forbes, “which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.”
“And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids,” adds Forbes, “more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members.”
“All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors,” notes the Forbes article “It also raises larger questions about the Trump family dynamics and whether Eric and his brother Don Jr., can be truly independent of their father.”
The question of the son’s independence from their father is a huge one, as Trump has claimed he has turned over all operations of The Trump Organization to his two sons to run while he is president. The fact he did not sell off or create a blind trust for all assets that could lead to a conflict of interest like other presidents has raised eyebrows, and now Forbes is showing that there is an incestuous relationship that clearly is not even at arm’s length.
Eric Trump did give a defensive response on his father’s favorite medium, Twitter:
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) 06. јун 2017.
The Forbes article also points specifically at the father as the one who insisted around 2012 that the Eric Trump charity pay for use of the Trump Organization properties, despite his son’s claims they were donated.