A Tale of Two Foundations

The more that Donald Trump and his supporters have done to shine the spotlight on the Clinton Foundation, the more it’s becoming clear that it’s the foundation that bears his name that is tarnished.

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On the one hand is the Clinton Foundation, formed by the former President and First Lady upon leaving the White House.

The Clinton Foundation has raised and spent hundreds of millions of dollars since then on initiatives ranging from combating climate change to combatting childhood obesity at home to vastly increasing the number of people being treated for HIV/AIDS abroad.

Bill and Chelsea Clinton, in Africa as part of the Clinton Global Initiative
Bill and Chelsea Clinton, in Africa as part of the Clinton Global Initiative

While the Clinton Foundation now has plentiful resources, Bill and Hillary Clinton continue to give their own funds to the Foundation (which Trump and his surrogates tried to manufacturer controversy out of), just as they, along with their daughter Chelsea, devote significant amounts of time to their cause, while receiving no compensation for their efforts.

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While the tax returns of any tax-exempt entity are available to the public for review, the Foundation also makes the results of its annual, third-party audit available to the public as well.

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On the other hand is the Donald Trump Foundation, a private foundation created by Donald Trump but to which he has provided no contributions for nearly a decade. Instead, the Foundation makes “donations” using the contributions made by Trumps business associates, while letting Donald take credit for those contributions.

Donald Trump with a portrait of himself, bought with Trump Foundation funds.
Donald Trump with a portrait of himself, bought with Trump Foundation funds.

Not just that, but there are serious questions about whether the checks cut from the Trump Foundation have actually been charitable: we know that the Trump Foundation made a “donation” to Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi, after which she dropped her offices investigation into the Trump University’s business practices.

When Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club violated the by laws of the Town of Palm Beach, Florida, he reached an agreement the the town would drop it’s $1,250 per day fine if he made a $150,000 donation to the Palm Beach Police Foundation.

It turns out that it was the Trump Foundation which made the donation, not Mar-A-Lago (the entity which was actually in violation of the bylaws) or even Donal Trump himself. In doing so, the Trump Foundation could have jeopardized its charitable status by making this “donation” in order to personally benefit Trump by paying a liability on his behalf.

Another investigation found that a portrait of Donald Trump that his Foundation purchased has been used as decoration at one of Trump’s golf courses, which violates the tax code by using the Foundation’s tax-exempt funds to benefit other entities under his control.

Prior to that, it was reported that Donald used Foundation money to buy an autographed Tim Tebow football helmet for himself from a charity auction, yet another violation of the tax code.

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Rather than using his charitable foundation to spread good throughout the world, Donald Trump has instead treated his Foundation as a piggy bank which operates to further the interests of Trump himself and his business interests, while using money “donated” by WWE Founder Vince McMahon (as he certainly received a charitable deduction for his donation).

It’s irony at its finest – Trump surrogates rabidly stirring up questions about the Clinton Foundation, only to turn out that the Foundation that has operated in blatant disregard for the law is the one that bears their candidate’s name.

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