Last night, Donald Trump hosted a fundraising rally in protest of the last GOP debate before the Iowa Caucuses. Supporters were told that donations would go to ““100% of your donations will go directly to Veterans needs,” but in reality, donations were funneled to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, the namesake non-profit which previously gave hundreds of thousands to the Clinton Foundation.
After ducking the final Republican presidential debate heading into next week’s Iowa caucuses, GOP front-runner Donald Trump announced that he would hold his own pro-veterans event during the debate to raise money for veterans. Trump even set up a special website to solicit donations to help veterans.
“Honor their valor,” the website, donaldtrumpforvets.com, states. “Donate now to help our Veterans.”
The website, which is nothing more than a single page with stock photos and a credit card donation form, claims that “100% of your donations will go directly to Veterans needs.”
There’s only one problem: 100% of the money raised on the site goes directly to Donald Trump’s personal non-profit foundation, according to a disclosure listed at the bottom of the page.
“The Donald J Trump Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization,” the disclosure reads. “An email confirmation with a summary of your donation will be sent to the email address provided above.”
Confirmation e-mails sent to individuals who contributed via the website confirm that rather than going directly to veterans, all contributions made from the site go directly to Donald Trump’s personal foundation.
“The Donald J Trump Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and acknowledges that no goods or services were provided to you in return for your contribution,” the confirmation e-mail states. “This letter is your receipt and should be kept with your tax records.”
A separate confirmation page that loads after donations are made on the site contains the same language noting that the contribution was made to the Donald J Trump Foundation, not to a distinct veterans organization with a history of directly supporting veterans and their families.
According to the domain registry information for Trump’s site, the domain was not registered until Thursday morning. The firm that registered the domain, Florida-based Parscale Media, also designed Trump’s official presidential campaign website.
Trump’s personal non-profit foundation, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, does not have a history of donating much money to veterans or to veterans’ causes. According to a recent analysis of the organization’s spending history by the Weekly Standard, Trump’s non-profit donated more money to the Clinton Foundation than it did to veterans causes.
Between 2009 and 2013, Trump’s non-profit donated between $100,001 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Over the same period of time, Trump’s group gave only $57,000 to veterans groups. A 2015 analysis by Forbes noted that barely 1 percent of the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s $5.5 million worth of donations betwen 2009 and 2013 went to organizations that support military veterans.
Donors to last night’s stunt will have to wait and see if their dollars actually ended up going where their money ends up. Odds are, Trump will end up making sure the funds get passed on to other charities because the Justice Department would love to prosecute Donald Trump for doing something the Clintons do with their foundations every day. Still, why didn’t Trump organizers make sure the funds go directly to a veterans organization instead of funneling it through the Trump Foundation, which at the very least, give a tiny hint of possible impropriety.