• September 26, 2022

Trump Hedging On Fundraising For Vets…Show Me The Money!

He skipped a big debate to make a point and to raise money for Vets. He said he raised $6million dollars. Well, maybe not?…

One night in January, Donald Trump skipped a GOP debate and instead held his own televised fundraiser for veterans. At the end of the night, Trump proclaimed it a huge success: “We just cracked $6 million, right? Six million.”

Now, Trump’s campaign says that number is incorrect.

Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said the fundraiser actually netted about $4.5 million, or 75 percent of the total that Trump announced.

Lewandowski blamed the shortfall on Trump’s own wealthy acquaintances. He said some of them had promised big donations that Trump was counting on when he said he’d raised $6 million. But Lewandowski said those donors backed out and gave nothing.

“There were some individuals who he’d spoken to, who were going to write large checks, [who] for whatever reason . . . didn’t do it,” Lewandowski said in a telephone interview. “I can’t tell you who.”An Army veteran’s helmet and boots are seen on a motorcycle near a line of supporters waiting to attend a Trump campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in April. (Mel Evans/AP)

Lewandowski also said he did not know whether a $1 million pledge from Trump himself was counted as part of the $4.5 million total. He said Trump has given that amount, but he declined to identify any recipients.

The comments appear to be the first acknowledgment — almost four months later — that Trump’s fundraiser had raised less than the candidate said. Lewandowski said he did not know the exact total of money raised or how much of it remained unspent.

Even with the lower total, Trump’s fundraiser brought in millions of dollars for veterans’ charities. The Washington Post’s accounting, based on interviews with charities, has found at least $3.1 million in donations that have been made to veterans groups.

Trump’s fundraiser on Jan. 28 was an indelible moment, a one-night showcase of the GOP front-runner’s boldness and charm.

In a single evening in Des Moines, Trump showed Fox News — the host of that night’s Trump-less debate — that he was powerful enough to spurn them. At the same time, he showed a national audience that he could conjure a multimillion-dollar benefit out of nothing, using connections, showmanship and money.

“Donald Trump — another great builder in New York, now a politician — I can’t stand this, a politician,” Trump said, in his trademark run-on style, after he’d listed a series of gifts from other wealthy friends. “I don’t want to be called a politician. All talk, no action — I refuse to be called a politician. Donald Trump gave $1 million. Okay?”

In the days after the fundraiser, Trump repeated the $6 million figure in TV appearances and Iowa rallies. “At that rally we raised, in one hour, $6 million. Is that good?” Trump said four days afterward at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

At first, he was very public about giving the money away. In rallies across Iowa, Trump would call local veterans groups up to the stage and present them with oversize checks.

In some cases, the money came from friends of Trump who sent checks directly to veterans groups. In other cases, the money was routed through Trump’s personal foundation.

For the groups that received this money — often dealing with aging veterans from the Vietnam War, along with returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan — the money was an enormous help.

“It’s all long gone,” said James Kallstrom, a retired FBI official who is the chairman of the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. In March, his group received $100,000, which Kallstrom said would provide $30,000 educational grants to the children of Marines killed on active duty. “I believe there was a helicopter crash that had, oh God, I forget how many there were. . . . They’re all young, and they all have young children.”

But, as the race continued, the checks from the fundraiser began to come less frequently. The most recent check identified by The Post was dated March 25.

In recent weeks, Trump and his campaign repeatedly declined to give new details about how much they have given away.

“Why should I give you records?” Trump said in an interview with The Post this month. “I don’t have to give you records.”

Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said Trump’s refusal to divulge how much of the money he had distributed raised questions about whether Trump intended the fundraiser primarily as a public-relations effort for himself.

“That’s just shady. Right? No matter how you cut it, that’s just shady,” Rieckhoff said. “If he was going to make it right, a couple of weeks before Memorial Day would be a good time to do it. It behooves him, not just politically but ethically, to come forward and account for this money.”

Trump provided no official way for charities to apply for the money. Groups around the country still tried, sending letters and hitting up local veterans-for-Trump leaders.

“We haven’t heard anything,” said Judy Schaffer of Heroes to Heroes, a New Jersey-based group that sends veterans on nondenominational trips to Israel to prevent suicide and promote “spiritual healing.” Her group had received a donation from Trump’s personal foundation years before.

“We have a waiting list of over 200 veterans. Many of them have already attempted suicide,” Schaffer said this week. “And it keeps me up at night, not being able to send more people.”

Lewandowski said Trump has decided on about two dozen groups that will get the remainder of the money in the next couple of weeks. He said the groups have been vetted and had been chosen by word-of-mouth within the Trump campaign or from causes Trump had supported before.

Lewandowski said Trump should not be blamed for promising $6 million in donations.

“What he said was, ‘We hope to get $6 million.’ He said this at an event where we were trying to get money. It was a best guess,” Lewandowski said. “That was his goal. His goal was to get somewhere around $6 million.”

On the night of the fundraiser, Trump named nine big donors, including himself.

Since then, The Post has found evidence from Trump’s staff, from the donors or from veterans charities that received the money that seven of those nine gave money as promised. All together, those gifts added up to $3.78 million.

On top of that, Trump said small-dollar donors gave $670,000 over the Internet. That adds up to $4.45 million.

So, were those other two big donors among the ones who backed out?

One of them was a shopping-mall magnate from Ohio who did not respond to multiple calls, emails and messages from The Post seeking to confirm his donations. But even if that man did back out, his pledge was so small — $50,000 — that it would make little difference in a tally of millions.

The other donor had made a much bigger promise: Trump, with his vow to give $1 million.

Did Trump make good on his promise to give from his personal funds?

“The money is fully spent. Mr. Trump’s money is fully spent,” Lewandowski said.

Who did Trump give to, and in what amounts?

“He’s not going to share that information,” Lewandowski said.


CNN.com says the money is missing….

Donald Trump drew much fanfare when he skipped a Republican debate in January to host a rally that he has said raised millions of dollars for veterans, but one question has lingered since the event: Where’s the money?

The Trump campaign said the event raised $6 million for different veterans groups, with Trump himself contributing $1 million, but details released by the campaign Thursday show only about half of that money has been dispersed so far.
The campaign did not provide specifics earlier this week, but after a CNN report aired Thursday morning questioning the contributions, a spokeswoman shared a list in the afternoon showing 27 veterans organizations that have received a total of $2.9 million to date.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN the contributions will continue as money comes in and she critiqued what she describes as misplaced scrutiny on the fundraiser.
“If the media spent half as much time highlighting the work of these groups and how our veterans have been so mistreated, rather than trying to disparage Mr. Trump’s generosity for a totally unsolicited gesture for which he had no obligation, we would all be better for it,” Hicks said Thursday.
Yet the vice president for Charity Navigator, Sandra Miniutti, said she believes the money should have already been dispersed.
Miniutti said some fundraisers rightfully take time to distribute payments if the recipients have to be vetted, such as after public emergencies, but she said Trump’s campaign established a clear list of organizations to benefit.
“There is no hard rule for turn-around time, but because the fundraising was so public, I think it’s fair to question why the funds haven’t been paid out,” Miniutti said.

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