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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Why doesn't the media swarm all over the Trump Foundation?

The editorial drumbeat continues, with calls for closing the Clinton Foundation even from those media outlets that support Clinton—because even though no wrongdoing has been proven, the ‘optics’ are bad. Okay, enough! Let’s call a timeout on this story and do a comparable bit of editorializing and handwringing about the Trump Foundation. What’s the Trump Foundation, you ask? You weren’t aware of it? I’m not surprised, given the paucity of coverage it’s gotten from the mainstream media. Well, let me fill you in on this little-known aspect of Donald Trump that American media, for the most part, finds less interesting than his crude, arrogant behavior.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation, founded in 1987, ostensibly to funnel Trump’s charitable giving to veterans groups and other needy organizations, was headquartered in New York. Good luck in finding them on the Internet. There’s lots about Eric Trump’s foundation (Eric is the Donald’s son), and tons of stories about the Foundation’s claims, and some of its problems, but no direct link to the Foundation itself. Strange for a charitable organization that got the bulk of its donations from individuals.
Here, though, is what you can learn if you type ‘Trump Foundation’ into a search engine:
-         As of December 31, 2014, the Foundation had assets of $1.3 million dollars, received gifts of $497,400, and gave $591,450 in donations. No details on the nature of those donations (was in cash, or as has been reported, free golf and other perks?).
-         When the Florida Attorney General’s office was considering a fraud suit against Trump University, Florida AG Pam Bondi solicited a campaign donation from Trump (he denies having spoken to her). She subsequently received $25,000 from the Trump Foundation, a violation of the law, as charitable foundations are not allowed to make political contributions. When this was outed, Trump reimbursed the Foundation from his personal funds, and the Foundation paid the IRS a $2,500 fine. Bondi got to keep the money rather than, as the law requires, giving it back to the Foundation. Oh, and shortly after receiving the ‘donation,’ she decided that there was no case against Trump University.
-         Trump has received millions of dollars from Saudis renting his expensive properties in New York, being used for the Saudi delegation to the UN.
-         Since he has yet to release his tax returns, there are still unanswered questions about the nature of his business relationships with Russia.
These are just a few of the background questions about Trump that the mainstream media has failed to deploy battalions of reporters to dig into, as they do each time something about Clinton comes up.

I, for one, would love to read that reporting.