Eric Trump's signature charitable foundation has been funneling huge amounts of cash intended to benefit children with cancer into the for-profit Trump Organization, potentially violating federal and state laws on taxes and charitable foundations, Forbes reported Tuesday.
Eric Trump, who is now co-head of the Trump Organization with his older brother Donald Jr. while their father serves as president, has run the Eric Trump Foundation for years. The organization's signature event, an annual golf invitational, has provided the "vast majority" of the more than $11 million it has raised.
But documents show while Eric Trump was touting free use of family golf courses as a way to hold the event on the cheap, allowing more money to go to cancer kids, at some point his father began getting tired of footing the bill. According to Forbes, filings show Eric Trump's foundation eventually paid out more than $1.2 million to the Trump Organization for use of the courses; golf charity experts told the site that "the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament."
"In the early years, they weren't being billed [for the club] — the bills would just disappear," former Trump National Westchester membership and marketing director Ian Gillule told Forbes. "Mr. Trump had a cow. He flipped. He was like, 'We're donating all of this stuff, and there's no paper trail? No credit?' And he went nuts. He said, 'I don't care if it's my son or not — everybody gets billed.'"
"I saw that Eric was getting billed," he added. "I would always say, 'I can't believe that his dad is billing him for a charitable outing.' But that's what they wanted."
Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation appears to have donated $100,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation for the express purpose of funneling it into Trump Organization coffers.
Another $500,000 of Eric Trump Foundation money was apparently donated to other charities, "many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses," Forbes reported.
The president publicly lamented Eric Trump's decision to step away from the charity because of possible conflicts of interest with his administration last year, though Forbes' investigation seems to throw doubt on the sincerity of the sentiment.
As President Donald Trump rose to power, the apparent conflicts of interest with his worldwide business empire seemingly only grew, with no apparent resolution in his threadbare plan to put his sons in charge of his businesses. His management of his signature charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, has also come under fire, with critics making similar allegations of self-dealing and flaunting of charities regulations.