Donald Trump Accused to 'Self-Dealing' With His Charity's Funds

September 20th 2016

Almie Rose

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is fond of talking about how much money he has.

But a new and damning story from David A. Fahrenthold of The Washington Post shows that the self-proclaimed billionaire used money from his own charity to fund his legal problems — and also buy some items for himself, including two portraits.


It's called self-dealing, and the legal definition of self-dealing is (emphasis mine)

"The conduct of a trustee, an attorney, or other fiduciary that consists of taking advantage of his or her position in a transaction and acting for his or her own interests rather than for the interests of the beneficiaries of the trust or the interests of his or her clients."

According to the IRS, there are seven different ways of exhibiting this illegal practice, and court documents and citations from The Post show that Trump used $258,000 from The Trump Foundation to cover his own lawsuits, which means Trump may have violated these self-dealing regulations. And that is not good. You could even say it's "sad!"

Trump is not the only donor (who was last recorded to have donated in 2009). There are other people donating to the charity, like the WWE's Vince and Linda McMahon who have contributed "$5 million from 2007 to 2009, tax records show." It's also pretty much a given that one shouldn't use funds from charity for other purposes.

Here are some examples of where the $258,000 from the foundation apparently went.

The Mar-a-Lago Case

Fahrenthold references a case in 2007 when Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida had "$120,000 in unpaid fines."


A photo posted by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on

So how did Trump take care of this situation?

"In a settlement, Palm Beach agreed to waive those fines — if Trump’s club made a $100,000 donation to a specific charity for veterans. Instead, Trump sent a check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity funded almost entirely by other people’s money, according to tax records."

Trump sent a check from his own charity to pay for the Mar-a-Lago fines.

The Paintings

Trump —on two separate occasions — used charity money to buy paintings of himself. One painting cost $10,000. Here it is:

Another, bid on by Melania Trump at an auction in 2007 and paid for by Trump Foundation funds, cost twice as much.

The Football Helmet

Trump made another fun purchase when he bought a football helmet signed by Tim Tebow in 2012 for $12,000, again using the foundation's money.

If this helmet and the paintings were displayed or used by Trump Foundation, then Trump may have done nothing wrong. But, as Fahrenthold writes, "Trump’s campaign has not responded to questions about what became of the helmet or the portrait."

The Hole-In-One Settlement

At a charity tournament at Trump’s golf course in Westchester County, N.Y., participants had the chance to win one million dollars if they hit a hole-in-one. Martin Greenberg did it — but didn't get to keep the million dollar prize. He sued.


A photo posted by Matt Merrill (@mrmerrill) on

Trump wound up settling instead of going to court. The settlement was that Trump had to donate $158,000 to Greenberg's foundation.

Guess where that money came from? 

"That money came from the Trump Foundation, according to the tax filings of both Trump’s and Greenberg’s foundations.

Greenberg’s foundation reported getting nothing that year from Trump personally or from his golf club.

Both Greenberg and Trump have declined to comment."

"Classic self-dealing"

Fahrenthold spoke to Rosemary E. Fei, a lawyer who deals with non-profits, who had this to say about Trump's settlement:

"Yes, Trump pledged as part of the settlement to make a payment to a charity, and yes, the foundation is writing a check to a charity. But the obligation was Trump’s. And you can’t have charitable foundation paying off Trump’s personal obligations. That would be classic self-dealing."

You can read more about Trump's legal problems and charity money at The Washington Post.