The Trump Organization took in healthy profits in recent years for hosting a charity golf event to benefit children's cancer research, despite claiming the use of the course had been donated Forbes reported Tuesday.
Since 2007, President Trump's son Eric Trump has held an annual charity golf event at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, N.Y., to raise money for the Eric Trump Foundation on behalf of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Forbes reported. To date, Eric Trump has raised more than $11 million — including $2.9 million last year — for the hospital's research, most of it through the golf tournaments, according to Forbes.
The costs for the tournaments averaged $50,000 during the first four years, which is about what other charities pay for events at Trump courses. But the expenses quickly began to rise, reaching $322,000 by 2015, Forbes reported, citing IRS filings.
If accurate, these figures are hard to reconcile with Eric Trump's claims that the charity is able to use the course for free and that many other expenses are donated. "We get to use our assets 100% free of charge," the president's son told Forbes.
"In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it's clear that the course wasn't free — that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization," Forbes reported. "Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament."
In addition, more than $500,000 in donations were given 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," the magazine reported.
According to Forbes, the spike in costs for the tournament started in 2011 when Donald Trump insisted the charity begin paying the Trump Organization for the events.
Ian Gillule, who worked as a membership and marketing director at the Westchester course, told Forbes that Donald Trump was not happy with the expenses the charity wasn't being billed for.
"Mr. Trump had a cow," Forbes quoted Gillule as saying. "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.'"
The Donald J. Trump Foundation gave $100,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation to help offset the increase in costs, Gillule told Forbes. That means donors to the Donald J. Trump Foundation — the Trump family had not given money to that foundation for several years — saw $100,000 of their donations pass on as revenue to the Trump Organization by way of charges to the Eric Trump Foundation.
Eric Trump announced he would stop fundraising in December and is now acting as co-head of the Trump Organization during his father's presidency. The Eric Trump Foundation changed its name to Curetivity and plans to continue to hold charity golf events for St. Jude, Forbes reported.