Donald Trump Foundation's largest donation 'was for refurbishment of a fountain outside his own hotel'

Charitable organisation founded by the billionaire businessman is being investigated by New York officials

Benjamin Kentish@BenKentish
Sunday 30 October 2016 19:09
Donald Trump presenting a cheque for $100,000 to a charity that provides dogs for wounded veterans. He gave over $250,000 for the renovation of a fountain outside his Plaza Hotel.
Donald Trump presenting a cheque for $100,000 to a charity that provides dogs for wounded veterans. He gave over $250,000 for the renovation of a fountain outside his Plaza Hotel.

The biggest ever donation made by Donald Trump’s charitable foundation was a $264,631 gift paid for the refurbishment of a New York fountain outside one of the billionaire businessman's own hotels, it has been reported.

The claims come amid allegations he hasn't donated any money to the charity since 2008.

The fee, which is thought to be the largest ever paid by the Donald J. Trump Foundation in its 29-year history, was used to renovate the monument outside the Plaza Hotel on the edge of Central Park, New York, according to the Washington Post.

The donation was made in 1989 to restore the Pulitzer Fountain, which stands outside the front doors of one of Mr Trump’s flagship hotels – meaning such a ‘charitable donation' would likely have benefited his own business, it has been suggested.

Analysis also appears to reveal the Trump Foundation has received twice as much in funding from other donors as it has from Mr Trump.

Tax records seen by the Post reportedly show the Foundation has benefitted from $5.5 million of donations made by the Republican candidate since it was founded in 1987, compared with $9.3 million from other donors, including world wrestling executive Vince McMahon. Mr Trump has not donated to his foundation since 2008, the records appear to show.

The billionaire businessman has repeatedly boasted about his charitable giving. In one of his books, The America We Deserve, he wrote of his family: “We’ve benefited from the American Dream and we feel the duty to give back to the community…Those who don’t are nothing more than parasites.”

Reports also suggest the organisation's smallest ever gift was a $7 donation paid to the Boy Scouts in 1989 – the same amount it cost at the time to register a new Scout. Mr Trump’s eldest son, Donald Junior, was 11 at the time. It is unknown whether the ‘donation’ was paid to register his child.

The Washington Post said it “has not been able to verify many of Trump’s boasts about his philanthropy”. It called his charitable giving “a façade”.

The paper claims that, after contacting 420 charities with a connection to Mr Trump, it discovered just one personal gift from the billionaire in the eight years prior to this spring, when Mr Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination. That was a donation of less than $10,000 paid to the Police Athletic League of New York City.

In response to the findings, Brian Galle, a professor of tax law at Georgetown University, said: “It shows you what this [foundation] is all about. Which is basically just about advancing Trump’s interests".

A spokesperson for Mr Trump said the businessman "has personally donated.tens of millions of charitable causes". The Independent has contacted the Trump Foundation for further comment.

The Foundation is currently under investigation by the New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, over alleged legal breaches and possible “self-dealing” – the illegal act of charity leaders using donations to further their own interests.

Sources also described to the Post how Mr Trump allegedly gate-crashed a charity event at a school for children with HIV, despite never having donated a penny to the charity.

Organisers said he had turned up unannounced and sat in the seat of another businessman, Steven Fisher, who had been a prominent donor to the charity. Mr Trump then reportedly joined in the ceremony while Mr Fisher was forced to sit in the audience.

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