Extensive reporting by the Washington Post's David Farenthold shows how Donald Trump used the Trump foundation to take credit for donations using other people's money. In Farenthold's first example, a New Jersey charity gave $150,000 to the Trump foundation. The Trump foundation then contributed $150,000 to the Palm Beach Police Foundation without adding any of Trump's own money. The police foundation rented a room at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club for a gala to give Trump an award for his philanthropy; the bill for the facilities rental was $276,463 according to police foundation tax records.
Farenthold also found that on at least two occasions Trump spent foundation money on gifts for himself, including $20,000 on a 6-foot high portrait of himself. Foundation funds have also been used for political purposes, which is illegal.
The Trump foundation structure is unusual for a family foundation, according to Leslie Lenkowsky, an Indiana University professor who studies philanthropy.
Our common understanding of charity is you give something of yourself to help somebody else. It’s not something that you raise money from one side to spend it on the other.
Lenkowsky added that, in his view, with the foundation structured as it is, Trump was not engaging in charity.
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