Eric Trump's Charity Spent 880k on Golf Events

Eric Trump Foundation Spent Hundreds of Thousands at Family-Owned Golf Courses

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in October 2016. In light of the increasing scrutiny on the Trump White House, we have been asked to re-run it. 

Eric Trump Foundation Gave Directly To Donald Trump’s Company

An analysis of The Eric Trump Foundation’s financial documents reveal the charity funneled cash to Donald Trump.

Amidst sensational headlines of leaked tax returns and audio, a low-key analysis by The Daily Beast largely avoided the spotlight. A careful review of Eric Trump’s charity revealed the eponymous foundation spent large sums of money at fundraising events on Donald Trump’s golf courses—$881,779 in total. In 2013, $100,000 went directly to Donald Trump himself. He received a further $88,000 in 2014.

“There’s nothing necessarily wrong with contracting with businesses you own,” says Law Professor Philip Hackney. An ethical problem emerges, however, when such a “charitable” organization touts a 95 to 100 percent donation ratio, as The Eric Trump Foundation does.  “There’s a question—maybe not of the legality, but of the ethics of it,” Hackney tells The Daily Beast.

The foundation does not disclose these expenditures to donors. The Who We Fund portion of the ETF’s official website simply lists the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a beneficiary, suggesting donors to the foundation are under the false impression that they’re directly funding the hospital.

The foundation has raised $6.5 million for St. Jude over the last ten years, and operates with remarkably low overhead. In an email to The Daily Beast, EFT’s executive director Paige Scardigl defended the organization’s financial practices:

“Trump properties make ZERO profit of any kind off ETF events. ETF simply reimburses Trump properties for direct out-of-pocket and third party vendor expenses that we are unable to get comped by our network of vendors (additional golf cart rentals, caddie fees, insurance, printing, postage, prizes and awards, stage, sound, lighting, travel for entertainment, transportation to bring guests to the event, credit card processing fees, etc.).”

This seemingly shotgun-style approach to non-profit finance baffles experts in the field, who note proper ethical procedure is the creation of a detailed invoice. “It sounds like they were just making a number up,” says Professor Elizabeth Keating, an expert in nonprofit finance.

“They should have had a proposal that said, ‘These are the costs,’ for which there should be an invoice, detailing what the foundation was paying for. Instead it sounds like the golf course just said, ‘Give us $100,000.’”

Without such a detailed invoice, it is impossible for donors to know whether or not the foundation is being honest about their expenditures—or if Donald Trump and his properties are simply using the organization for kickbacks.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Timothy Bertrand is an author and journalist from Houston, Texas. He is the Associate Editor at Reverb Press and splits his time between covering breaking news and penning thoughtful literary essays.