In honor of Giving Tuesday, Donald Trump issued a presidential message encouraging people to donate to charity and applauding the generosity of the American people: “Through acts of charity, we reveal the compassionate foundation of our country. Acts of kindness are hallmarks of our great Nation, and we acknowledge the tremendous contributions of the many organizations that provide love, hope, care, and counseling all year long, especially on #GivingTuesday,” it said.
The dispatch didn’t say whether Trump planned to make any donations of his own, but in the past, the president has regularly pretended to be a bigger donor than he really was. And in many cases, he has found creative and unusual ways to use his family’s charitable foundation to give back—to himself.
Some of those actions have landed Trump and his three adult children in legal trouble. This past summer, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood brought a civil suit against the Trumps, alleging “persistently illegal conduct” at the Donald J. Trump Foundation. “In the absence of a functioning board”—the foundation’s board of directors allegedly hasn’t held a meeting in nearly 20 years—”Mr. Trump ran the Foundation according to his whim, rather than the law,” the suit said.
In honor of Giving Tuesday, here are some of the foundation’s greatest hits:
- Paying $10,000 for a large portrait of Trump, one of two portraits of its namesake the Trump Foundation is known to have purchased. It was later found on the wall of Trump National Doral Miami, one of the president’s for-profit golf resorts. (Citing a charitable interpretation of IRS rules, a Trump spokesman said the move was “absolutely proper” because the Doral was simply “storing” the portrait for the Trump Foundation.)
— Enrique Acevedo (@Enrique_Acevedo) September 21, 2016
- Shelling out $12,000 for a football jersey and helmet signed by former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, with no clear charitable objective besides buying the future president some sweet sports apparel.
- Possibly funneling money raised for St. Jude, a children’s hospital that specializes in cancer care, to one of Trump’s golf courses.
- Using more than $250,000 of foundation money to settle lawsuits against Trump’s for-profit businesses.
- Allowing staffers from Trump’s presidential campaign to control the distribution of money that Trump raised for veterans’ organizations as part of a televised event he held in January 2016 in lieu of attending a debate hosted by Fox News—which Trump was feuding with at the time. Underwood’s lawsuit described the event as “a Trump Campaign event in which the Foundation participated.” Nonprofits like the Trump Foundation are not allowed to take part in political campaigns. Trump also claimed he would personally donate $1 million to the veterans groups—which he did only after the media badgered him for four months.
If all this weren’t enough, most of the above-mentioned donations may have been from people other than Trump. In at least five out of the last nine years, he hasn’t donated a cent to his family foundation, though others have.
You can read the “Presidential Message on #GivingTuesday” below. For extra fun, try to imagine these words actually coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth.
During this joyous time of year, we give thanks for the many blessings of the season and remember those less fortunate as we reaffirm our commitment to generosity, kindness, and charitable giving.
Through acts of charity, we reveal the compassionate foundation of our country. Acts of kindness are hallmarks of our great Nation, and we acknowledge the tremendous contributions of the many organizations that provide love, hope, care, and counseling all year long, especially on #GivingTuesday.
As one Nation, we know there is no challenge too great for the American people to overcome. American resilience is evident not just in the selfless deeds of first responders, service members, and volunteers, but also in the extraordinary generosity and benevolence of American families, businesses, and organizations that know that no kind gesture is too insignificant, no length of time volunteering is too short, and no contribution to charity is too small. May this holiday season be a reminder of the blessings we enjoy and of our duty to ensure that the spirit of American greatness continues to lift up people in need throughout our communities.
Melania and I thank all those who have dedicated their time, talents, and resources to charitable causes over this past year, and we encourage you to look for opportunities to contribute this coming year.