Donald Trump is involved in a number of scandals this week. First, his swindling of Trump University students has made the national spotlight when the Washington Post convinced the judge overseeing the case to release internal Trump U. documents to the public. That sham operation is still unfolding and the “sleazy” media that’s daring to do its job by investigating Trump’s integrity will continue to face harsh rebukes from Trump, a man who counts on his supporters to like him MORE when his unethical and immoral actions are made public. It’s a small demographic, thankfully, but they are all his.
The Washington Post was also instrumental in pulling back the covers on Trump’s fundraising for veterans. On, January 28th, Trump rebuffed Fox News and their Republican presidential debate and instead held what he billed as a fundraiser for veterans. He went public multiple times claiming to have raised $6 million including $1 million of his own money.
Four months later, the Post couldn’t find any veterans group that had received money and so they went asking. Finally, after posting a piece about it, Trump finally started doling out the checks after kiting their money for four months.
In his press conference yesterday Trump ludicrously blamed the whole thing on the media, calling the journalist who wrote the original piece a “sleaze” and, without any apparent irony at all, characterized American media outlets as being “unbelievably dishonest”. He also earned a “Pants on Fire” Politifact rating for his statement that he “wanted to keep it private, because I don’t think it’s anybody’s business if I want to send money to the vets.”
All of this prompted Dana Milbank to write this scathing bit of truth:
So, students, to review: Trump University encouraged people to run up high-interest credit card debt to learn how to profit from the financial collapse by borrowing more money to “help a family in crisis” by taking away their foreclosed homes. And all this was a public service by Trump, who pledged to give his proceeds to charity but never did — and who now is calling the U.S.-born federal judge presiding over his fraud case a “Mexican.”
By comparison, the veterans who waited four months to receive Trump’s largesse did relatively well.
As it turns out, one of the groups that got some of that sweet, sweet Trump #VetGate cash was Michigan’s own “Foundation for American Veterans”. The group has received an “F” rating from the charity watchdog group CharityWatch after they were found to spend ONLY 10% of the money they raise to help veterans.
The Foundation for American Veterans, based in Michigan, received an “F” from the group CharityWatch. The Better Business Bureau issued an “alert” about the group in January, citing “a pattern and high volume of complaints and customer reviews” that alleged customers received “a high volume of what they consider to be harassing phone calls” from the group’s solicitors. The BBB said the group had blamed the problem on its telemarketer.
An examination of the group’s tax filings shows that the foundation spent just $2.4 million of its total $8 million budget on helping veterans directly in 2014.
The group spent the rest of the money in 2014 on fundraising and management expenses, with $3.5 million paid out to professional fundraising companies. Another $2 million went toward salaries and general expenses, including billing and collection services.
One of those “professional fundraising companies” is Associated Community Services (ACS), also from Michgian. As it turns out, ACS has gotten into big trouble with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office for their very shady practices. Attorney General Schuette was particularly incensed that ACS was convincing donors, often veterans themselves, that it was a legitimate group because they were “on file with the Attorney General’s office”. This, according to Schuette, has nothing to do with the legitimacy of a fundraiser or charity. You can listen to one of their deceptive solicitations HERE.
Shady people like Trump, who Sec. Hillary Clinton yesterday called a “fraud” who is “trying scam America”, like to “pal around” (if you’ll excuse the Sarah Palinism) with other shady people. Trump and his minions could easily have found veterans groups with good CharityWatch ratings. Instead, one of the groups that got his #VetGate cash was a sham front for profiteers enriching themselves by exploiting veterans.
Just like Trump exploited victims of the Bush Recession to enrich himself.
[CC image credit: Gage Skidmore | Flickr]