In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United, opening the door for unlimited political contributions, essentially turning major political races over to billionaires. Republicans and Democrats now openly agree this has had a major impact on the political process.
Billionaire Donald Trump himself has openly criticized this decision, calling it a disaster for Democracy. During the campaign he has also called opponents, including Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz ,”puppets for their billionaire donors.” Trump is self funding his campaign.
Parish & Company reviews candidates financial information for various news organizations and this post looks at the Donald J Trump foundation. The purpose is not to criticize Mr. Trump but rather articulate key dynamics for these journalists.
Most notable about the foundation is how small it is, with total assets of only $1.3 million.
In 2014 Trump’s foundation received contributions of only $497,400, of which 95 percent came from Richard Ebers, whose firm markets high end tickets to sporting and entertainment events. Trump did not contribute to his own foundation, even though his children are directors.
Of the $596,700 disbursed, the largest amount, $100,000, went to Citizens United. The address listed on the disclosure is indeed that of Citizens United, the organization that won the landmark Supreme Court case in 2010 and continues to aggressively fight all disclosure related to political campaign contributions.
What is particularly surprising about this contribution is that it occurred years after the court decision when it was fully realized that the decision had already corrupted the election system, handing it over to billionaires. More recently Citizens United has filed numerous cases at the State level, fighting against the disclosure of the very donor information kept private that Trump now criticizes.
The following exhibit lists the board members and officers for the Donald J Trump foundation.
The whole structure appears to be a cozy tax advantaged system. Donald’s friend Roger donates $477K to the Trump foundation and gets a full tax deduction for his contribution. Trump then sends $100K along to Citizens United to fight all rules related to political campaign donors identities being revealed.
Most surprising to me is that the contribution occurred in 2014, years after the Citizens United decision, and close to Trump initiating his Presidential bid. Some may say this contribution burnished his conservative credentials yet why would he disparage his kids reputations by having them as board members? Yes indeed Donald, the system is broken.
Here is a link to the complete filing for the Donald J Trump foundation for the year ending December 31, 2014.