Is Trump a Scrooge? A review of his charitable foundation does not impress.(Read article summary)
According to The Smoking Gun, an investigatory website that examined the Donald J. Trump Foundation's tax forms, Trump 'may be the least charitable billionaire in the United States.'
Over the past two decades, Mr. Trump’s foundation has paid out only $6.7 million in donations, according to The Smoking Gun’s calculations. By way of contrast, the foundation of another New York billionaire – Mayor Michael Bloomberg – made $235 million in charitable contributions in 2008 alone.
Trump himself gave his foundation what TSG termed a "miserly" $3.7 million in the period between 1990 and 2009. He is not even the largest contributor to his own charitable organization, notes TSG. That would be World Wrestling Entertainment, the faux-sport empire of the colorful Vince McMahon. WWE has chipped in with $5 million for Trump’s foundation in recent years.
The Donald “may be the least charitable billionaire in the United States,” concludes TSG.
Really? We’ll note here our belief that the books of one foundation may not be the measure of a man’s worth, even if the man in question is that foundation’s namesake.
Trump may prefer to do his good works quietly. Perhaps he rides his limo through the streets of New York at dusk, leaping out to press bags of cash into the hands of the downtrodden. “Who was that man with the ... whatever it is on his head?” lucky recipients ask as Trump jumps back before he is recognized.
Plus Trump runs a television show on which apprentices receive valuable business experience and tips from the master dealmaker. Surely that is a charitable enterprise, of a sort.
More realistically Trump may just have other pipelines through which he makes charitable donations – one that don’t have “Donald J. Trump” slapped on their letterhead.
There is one kind of donation Trump engages in fairly often which TSG did not explore, we’ll add. That’s political contributions. He’s fairly generous with those – and he’s bipartisan.
“The Donald has been a prolific donor to both Democrats and Republicans during the past two decades,” concluded the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks political money, earlier this year.
Trump has donated to 96 candidates for federal political office since the 1990 election cycle, according to the Center. Of those people, only 48 – exactly half – were Republicans at the time they got the cash.
Of the ten candidates to whom Trump has given the most, six are Democrats. The top recipient of his cash – with $24,750 in donations since 1990 – has been Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York, who was censured by House colleagues last year for financial misdeeds. Number four on the list is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada. Trump gave Sen. Reid $4,800 for his winning campaign in 2010 against GOP nominee and tea party favorite Sharron Angle.
Now that Trump is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination we’re thinking those donations to Democrats will stop. Or maybe not – Trump hinted Tuesday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he could run as an independent if he loses in GOP primaries. In that case, donations to Democrats might look good.