The Washington Post, now freed from the burden of churning out Bernie Sanders hit pieces, has turned its attention to Donald Trump’s charitable activity in a series of article examining the strange ebb and flow of his “non-profit” enterprises.
It’s been a solid series, but the most entertaining installment surely came this morning, when the Post recounted a story from four years ago at a Palm Beach fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity. Trump entered a bidding war against fellow attendees that ended with his winning bid of $12,000. The prize? An autographed Tim Tebow football helmet.
That fact is funny enough on its own—Tebow, who has been unable to find his footing in the NFL, was nevertheless an icon at the University of Florida, and has become a conservative icon for his Christian beliefs. He’s also totally insufferable—part of the issue is the obsessive discourse around him, to be fair—and is basically a perfect fit for Donald Trump. He’s Sarah Palin in shoulder pads, and you couldn’t script a funnier purchase…of COURSE Trump wanted a Tebow helmet! Check him out, proudly displaying his new acquisition, in this photo.
But the meat of the story isn’t about the helmet—it’s about where Trump’s $12,000 actually came from. Turns out, he paid with money from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, his own charity. Per the Post:
Trump himself sent no money (In fact, a Komen spokesperson said, Trump has never given a personal gift of cash to the Komen organization). He paid the bill with money from a charity he founded in 1987, but which is largely stocked with other people’s money. Trump is the foundation’s president. But, at the time of the auction, Trump had given none of his own money to the foundation for three years running…
The Trump Foundation does not appear to have offices of its own: it is headquartered at Trump’s business offices in New York, and has no full-time staff.
Essentially, other people gave money to Trump, and he used it to buy a helmet. By IRS rules, this is likely a “self-dealing” violation, assuming Trump hasn’t given the helmet away to another charity. And based on his “no comment” in response to the Post, it seems like that’s a safe bet.
“That would be a classic violation of the prohibition on a charity being operated for the private inurement (benefit) of the charity’s creator,” wrote Brett G. Kappel, an expert on tax-exempt organizations at the Akerman law firm in Washington. The Trump Foundation does not appear to have offices of its own. It is headquartered at Trump’s business offices in New York and has no full-time staff.
Maybe it’s just me, but I like to believe that in some recess of his memorabilia collection, Donald Trump also has an A-Rod centaur statue.