The Washington Post has reported that when it comes to charitable causes, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump talks a good game – but his mouth writes checks that never seem to get cashed. If The Donald’s support of charitable causes had a theme song, it would be Burt Bacharach’s 1968 hit “Promises, Promises” – because that’s all they are.
The story first broke in early April after WaPo investigative reporter David Farhenthold had been digging into Trump’s finances for some time, particularly his claim – made at the beginning of his Presidential bid – that he’d given over $102 million to charity since 2010.
It would still be fairly generous of him – if he ever delivered. But according to the WaPo investigation, Trump himself delivered very little. Instead, his “gifts” consisted primarily of what his kind refers to as “O.P.M.,” or Other People’s Money – all run through his own foundation, to which he did not make a single donation between 2009 and 2014. Many of those gifts were free rounds of golf, lodgings at deluxe resorts, gourmet meals and other perks, provided to those people who are in a position to further his business and political ambitions.
Of course, giving to charity using a foundation funded by O.P.M. isn’t illegal – but it can certainly give the wrong impression. In this case, that impression was one of Trump being the King of Philanthropists when in reality, he gave up very little of his own personal wealth. In fact, WaPo found that contrary to Trump’s claims, his own contributions over the past seven years have amounted to less than $10,000.
Of course, Trump himself, as well as his Foundation’s staff, claim that most of his charitable giving is “off the books.” However, he refuses to release his tax returns, which is a necessity for any political candidate. His excuse? He wants to keep it all “private,” telling the media, “There’s no way for you to know or understand.” Then, in an act driven by sheer vindictiveness, he revoked the press passes for all WaPo reporters.
To be fair, it has been established that Trump has given away $3.8 million to various charities over the past 15 years – including a promised $1 million gift to a veteran’s organization that he was finally pressured into delivering by the media. But let’s put that figure into perspective. Trump’s current reported net worth is $4.5 billion. That is 4,500 million. That’s like an average person walking around with $450 in his pocket who gives .38 cents to a homeless person and feeling generous. Can’t a billionaire, particularly a megalomaniac with an ego the size of the North American continent, do any better than that?
Indeed they can – and many do. For example, film maker George Lucas, whose net worth is the same as Trump’s, has given away nearly a quarter of this wealth to various causes. Author J.K. Rowling of “Harry Potter” fame had the distinction of being the first literary billionaire in history – but no longer. She’s given away so much that she has dropped out of the billionaire’s club.
Of course, unlike Trump, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has never struggled for money a day in his life, Lucas came from a working-class family in Central California, and of course, Rowling’s early struggles as an impoverished single mother are well known. Significantly, neither have boasted or even publicized their charitable giving.
So it looks as if Trump’s boasts about his kind heart and generous pocketbook are just like his promises to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it – a complete and total lie.