Don’t be fooled: Donald Trump is no philanthropist.
Although the real estate tycoon-cum-presidential candidate has boasted about his charitable efforts, a Washington Post investigation published Tuesday found that, over a 15-year period, Trump donated less than a third of the $8.5 million he pledged to give in that time.
From 2001 until his recent (and highly-publicized) donation to a veterans’ families group in May, Trump only contributed $2.8 million through a foundation created to manage his philanthropy. (His most recent proven donation to the foundation was in 2008.)
When BuzzFeed inquired about his donations, a spokeswoman for the campaign said that Trump’s charitable giving is “generous and frequent,” insisting that these donations are made privately and that “there’s no way for you to know or understand what those gifts are or when they are made.”
In fact, there is — but the campaign refuse to put out any documents that would support the claim that he donates privately. This set of files includes his tax returns, which he has repeatedly pledged to release.
So the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold painstakingly contacted over 160 charities with supposed connections to Trump, tracking progress on Twitter as he went along. As it turns out, only one of these groups, the Police Athletic League of New York, confirmed that it had received money from the candidate — a single donation of under $10,000 in 2009.
Fahrenthold also found that not-so noble causes like Trump’s daughter’s ballet school often received much larger sums than the causes he frequently name-dropped. For instance, though the Republican candidate has repeatedly spoken about donating profits from books and other ventures to fight homelessness, AIDS and multiple sclerosis, his son’s private school got more than all of those causes combined.
Stories like these are anything but rare. The BuzzFeed report notes that there is no proof that Trump followed through on promises to donate his profits from a Comedy Central special, a New Zealand lottery, and even a property rental to the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
In other cases, such as a lawsuit he won against the city of Palm Beach, or the sale of his vodka line, the candidate donated significantly less than he pledged to initially, going from as much as a few million pledged to a few hundred dollars in actual donations.
Trump’s failure to give to charity also points to the likelihood that his ventures are less profitable than he makes them seem — and, therefore, that he is less wealthy than he claims to be. Or at least, much stingier.
Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech on his economic policy at the Alumisourse Building in Monessen, Pennsylvania, U.S., June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Louis Ruediger