Donald Trump’s campaign says the Washington Post report that the Republican nominee spent more than $250,000 from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits for his businesses is “peppered with inaccuracies.”
But David Fahrenthold, the reporter who broke the story, says Team Trump has yet to give him or the paper an example of one.
“They haven’t actually told us any of the specific inaccuracies they’re talking about,” Fahrenthold told Yahoo News on Wednesday. “That’s what I’m sort of waiting for now.”
In his piece published Tuesday, Fahrenthold reported that in 2007 Trump donated $100,000 from the foundation to a charity for veterans to settle a dispute with the town of Palm Beach, Fla., which had fined his Mar-a-Lago Club $120,000 for having an 80-foot flagpole on the property.
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) September 20, 2016
In another case, a man who hit a hole in one while playing in a charity golf tournament at Trump’s Westchester County, N.Y., golf course sued him for the stated $1 million prize for the shot. The club settled the case by making a $158,000 donation to the golfer’s own charity.
Again, the donation came from Trump’s charitable foundation and not from one of Trump’s for-profit businesses.
“In all these cases, Trump signed the checks that made these payments,” Fahrenthold added. “If he didn’t know what they were for, then I guess that might be an excuse.”
According to Fahrenthold, Trump spent a total of $258,000 of the foundation’s funds — money raised mostly by donations — to settle such disputes, purchase advertising to promote his hotels and buy at least two large portraits of himself.
“In 2014, Trump spent $10,000 of the foundation’s money on a portrait of himself bought at a charity fundraiser,” Fahrenthold wrote in the Washington Post. “Or, rather, another portrait of himself. Several years earlier, Trump used $20,000 from the Trump Foundation to buy a different, six-foot-tall portrait.”
Followers of Fahrenthold’s Twitter feed helped him locate one of the paintings, which is apparently hanging in the Champions Bar & Grill at Trump National Doral Resort in Miami.
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) September 21, 2016
— Enrique Acevedo (@Enrique_Acevedo) September 21, 2016
Those purchases would appear to be in violation of U.S. tax laws against “self-dealing.”
“If you’re the president of the foundation, you can’t just take money out of the foundation and spend it on yourself,” Fahrenthold explained. “You can’t use it to buy things for yourself. You can’t use it to help your businesses. If the money’s in the charity, it has to be used for charitable purposes.”
Last week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office has launched a probe into whether the Trump Foundation had violated state charity laws.
“We have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety,” Schneiderman, a Democrat, told CNN.
The Trump campaign released a statement blasting Fahrenthold as “a biased reporter who is clearly intent on distracting attention away from the corrupt Clinton Foundation, a vehicle for the Clintons to peddle influence at the expense of the American people.”
Earlier this month, the Post published a report that Trump paid a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service this year for a $25,000 political donation the foundation made to Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi in 2013 while she was considering joining a fraud case against Trump University.
Bondi’s office later decided not to pursue the case.
On Tuesday, Bondi, a Republican, defended her decision to keep the donation.
“There was nothing improper about it,” she said. “So there was no reason to return it.”
In an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett Tuesday night, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway defended the Mar-a-Lago donation Trump made, regardless of where the money came from.
“I think this is a classic Donald Trump,” Conway said. “He wanted to raise the American flag as high as he possibly could over Mar-a-Lago. I think a lot of Americans at this point would applaud that.”
She continued: “How did the Mar-a-Lago benefit from him giving $100,000 to veterans? The veterans benefited, and I think that’s great, and I applaud him for doing that.”