Eric Trump’s old foundation donated $2.9 million in 2016 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a leading cancer center in Memphis, Tennessee, according to a new filing first obtained by the Daily Beast. That document also shows that the president’s son lied to the press about how his organization spent its money.
The Eric Trump Foundation, which changed its name to Curetivity in May 2017, hosts an annual invitational at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York, where the president’s son previously claimed the charity could use the course for free. “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” he told Forbes last year. The filing shows that the charity actually paid $99,000 to the golf club for goods and services it claims were worth $184,000.
Another $13,000 went to Trump Golf Links Ferry Point, a nearby course that hosted additional golfers for the annual fundraiser, according to the document. Trump SoHo, where the charity had previously offered shuttles to attendees, got another $23,000. And the president’s Florida club Mar-a-Lago got another $11,000 for goods the charity claims were worth $47,000. The charity said the goods and services rendered were worth more than the amounts paid. Altogether, those payments add up to a total of $145,000 from Eric’s nonprofit charity to his family’s for-profit properties in 2016.
In June 2017, the New York attorney general opened an investigationinto the charity following a Forbes report that exposed apparent violations of federal tax rules and state laws that ban self dealing and misleading donors. That investigation remains ongoing.
The new document reveals the finances of the foundation during the presidential run of Donald Trump, the man who commanded that the charity pay his business, according to two people directly involved. Former Trump National Westchester employee Ian Gillule previously told Forbes that Eric’s organization was not billed in its first few years of operation. “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.”
The filing breaks down more specific expenses that also do not seem to line up with previous statements by Eric Trump. “Things like wine we were normally able to get donated,” he told Forbes last year. The filing shows food and beverage expenses of $118,000.
Every golf fundraiser also included live entertainment from comedians or musicians. “They did it for free,” Eric Trump said. The document shows entertainment expenses of $117,000. It lists an additional $138,000 worth of unspecified “other direct expenses.”
The new filing also adds to concerns about whether the Eric Trump Foundation, which helped raise more than $16 million for St. Jude since 2007, has been up front with its donors about where else it was giving away money. Two former board members, Katrina Kaupp and Doug Reinhardt, previously told Forbes they believed all of the money went to the hospital. A “donate now” page on an archived page of the charity’s website once said, “All donations solely benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.” Eric Trump hammered in the point, talking about the 2014 event in a video. “We just raised an inordinate amount of money, and it all obviously goes to St. Jude,” he said.
But tax filings from that year showed that only $1.2 million of the $1.8 million raised went to St. Jude. Another $240,000 paid for expenses and $200,000 went to other organizations.
According to the new filing, the Eric Trump Foundation continued to sprinkle a small portion of its funds to charities other than St. Jude in 2016.
Animal organization Big Dog Ranch Rescue got $10,000. Lara Trump, Eric’s wife, is co-hosting an event for that group at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida in March. The Staten Island Zoo got $15,000. It once said that the Eric Trump Foundation had helped to donate three arctic foxes. The Eric Trump Foundation also gave to Chai Lifeline, a children’s cancer charity that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner hosted at the White House in October.
“Relevant donors whose money was given to causes other than St. Jude were made aware the funds would be donated elsewhere,” a spokesperson for the charity wrote in an email to Forbes in June. “All donations made via the website were given to St. Jude.”
Tikva Children’s Home received $16,600. The New Jersey charity cares for children in Odessa, Ukraine. Mikheil Saakashvili, who helped Trump begin a licensing project in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, once served as the governor of Odessa. It is not clear why the Eric Trump Foundation gave to the charity, or if the Saakashvili connection had anything to do with it. Reports forbes