On the campaign trail and his personal websites, Donald Trump has bragged he's an "ardent philanthropist" who has given more than $100 million in recent years to worthy causes. To back up that claim, he sent reporters a 93-page document noting all of his contributions.
Well, the Washington Post took the time to comb through those contributions and found that Trump has been stretching the truth on his charitable streak. In fact, zero of those contributions involved his actually giving cash to anyone — the vast majority of donations were either free rounds of golf at his clubs or conservation land deals.
But there are also some truly baffling items on Trump's supposed charity list — including a number of "donations" to private spas and hotels in Miami through his golf course in town. A random guy named "Brian" was even lucky enough to receive $800 from the Trump National Doral Miami, the Post discovered.
Trump's records show a luxury selection of Miami spas and hotels getting "charitable donations" from his local golf course: The Setai in South Beach is shown as receiving $1,800 in December 2012; the Standard Spa, just down the street, got $130 the same day, while $130 went to Acqualina in Sunny Isles Beach. Several Fort Lauderdale spas and hotels are also listed.
So what gives? Trump's campaign declined to comment to the Post about what those so-called gifts were all about. New Times has also emailed his campaign about the Miami donations in particular; we'll update this post if we hear back.
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We also asked the Setai, the Standard Spa, and Acqualina if they had any record of why Trump's golf course would have given them charitable gifts in 2012, but haven't received any answers yet. And Brian, we'd love to hear your story too — if you're out there and can let us know why Trump gave you 800 bucks, drop us a line.
Aside from revealing the odd Miami gifts, the Post's story adds another crack to the public persona that Trump brandishes so powerfully on the campaign trail. Compared to fellow billionaires in his tax bracket, he gives almost nothing to real charities. His charity, in fact, operates more like an arm of his business empire, doling out favors as he sees fit.
“Not a good model. It’s not wrong. It’s not unique. But it’s poor philanthropy,” Leslie Lenkowsky, a faculty member at Indiana University’s school of philanthropy, told the Post.
That is, unless you're a Miami guy named Brian.