Forbes has a helluva story out, regarding Donald Trump’s inability to check his startling greed. The fact that it orbits around his own son and a bunch of dying kids makes it all the more astonishing.
It goes like this: Starting in 2007 Eric Trump ran a charity golf tournament to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Raising over $200,000 in its first year, the success of that first event likely owed itself to three things:
1.) It having the Trump name.
2.) It being held at Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York.
3.) Its promise to pass along virtually every dollar to the cancer-stricken kids.
Because he can get his family’s golf course for free and have most of the other costs donated, virtually all the money contributed will go toward helping kids with cancer. “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” Trump tells Forbes…
So for the first few years the costs to run the Eric Trump Foundation golf invitational were kept low. And Eric managed to keep his promise.
But then, Donald Trump noticed something.
“In the early years, they weren’t being billed [for the club]–the bills would just disappear,” says Ian Gillule, who served as membership and marketing director at Trump National Westchester during two stints from 2006 to 2015 and witnessed how Donald Trump reacted to the tournament’s economics. “Mr. Trump had a cow. He flipped. He was like, ‘We’re donating all of this stuff, and there’s no paper trail? No credit?’ And he went nuts. He said, ‘I don’t care if it’s my son or not–everybody gets billed.'”
So in 2011 the costs went from $46,000 to $142,000.
The Trump Organization declined to answer detailed questions about the payments. But it seems that for the future president, who Forbes estimates is worth $3.5 billion, a freebie to help his son directly fight kids’ cancer took a backseat to revenue.
“I saw that Eric was getting billed,” Gillule adds. “I would always say, ‘I can’t believe that his dad is billing him for a charitable outing.’ But that’s what they wanted.”
That’s when Dad began billing Eric’s foundation and St. Jude’s Hospital for everything he could think of.
THE COSTS FOR ERIC’S golf tournament quickly escalated. After returning, in 2012, to a more modest $59,000–while the event brought in a record $2 million–the listed costs exploded to $230,000 in 2013, $242,000 in 2014 and finally $322,000 in 2015 (the most recent on record, held just as Trump was ratcheting up his presidential campaign), according to IRS filings…
Even if the Eric Trump Foundation had to pay the full rate for literally everything, Forbes couldn’t come up with a plausible path to $322,000 given the parameters of the annual event (a golf outing for about 200 and dinner for perhaps 400 more). Neither could golf tournament experts or the former head golf professional at Trump National Westchester. “If you gave me that much money to run a tournament, I couldn’t imagine what we could do,” says Patrick Langan, who worked at the club from 2006 to 2015. “It certainly wasn’t done that way.”
There’s no reason to ‘imagine’, it’s no mystery. Once it became a successful charity, an annual event on the New York social calendar, Donald Trump took it over. And he’s been bleeding it dry ever since.
…at the same time the Eric Trump Foundation went from what appeared to be a clean, efficient operation to a seemingly Byzantine one that suddenly found itself saddled with costs, there was a clear shift of control.
In 2010, the year the economics of the tournament suddenly pivoted, four of the seven original board members, who were personal friends of Eric, left. Those 4 were eventually replaced by 14 new board members, the majority of whom owed all or much of their livelihoods to the Trump Organization… Add in Eric himself, as well as his wife, Lara, and 9 of the 17 Eric Trump Foundation board members had a vested interest in the moneymaking side of the Trump empire. The foundation had become a de facto subsidiary of the Trump Organization.
Eric Trump’s foundation went from a low-ball golf charity run by him and his friends to a money-squeezing operation run by Donald’s cronies. Two of the new board members are Michael Cohen, the President’s personal lawyer, and Dan Scavino, the White House Director of Social Media and Assistant to the President.