We’ve been seeing over recent days that Donald Trump and members of his family not only treat the Trump Foundation as a sort of personal piggy bank but actually think that’s how it’s supposed to work. Well, it seems like that may be the case. A longtime Trump family aide, Tracey Patton, told The Des Moines Register today that some of the Trump Foundation money actually is Trump’s personal money and he can do anything he wants with it.
From The Des Moines Register …
Lynne Patton, a senior assistant to three of Trump’s adult children and the vice president of son Eric Trump’s charitable foundation, told The Des Moines Register that some donations to the Donald J. Trump Foundation should be recognized as contributions from Trump himself because in some cases that money would have been paid to Trump directly.
“A lot of times Mr. Trump will give a speech somewhere or he’ll raise money in some way and he asks that that entity, instead of cutting a personal check to him, cut it to his charity,” Patton said. “That’s money that otherwise would’ve been in his personal account, right?”
“So when he cuts a check from his foundation for let’s say, St. Jude, it is his money,” she added. “No ifs, ands or ways about it.”
Needless to say, this is very much not how it works. Patton wasn’t able to provide any examples of cases where money was owed to Trump directly but where he asked that it be paid to the Foundation. But it doesn’t matter. A family foundation is a specific tax-preferred entity. Whether or not you have someone pay money into your foundation that you could have had them pay you directly is irrelevant; it’s still foundation money, with all the strings that attach to that.
Later Patton said: “That’s his money going into his foundation. Just because the check doesn’t say ‘Donald and Melania Trump, TD Bank or Chase Manhattan (Bank)’ doesn’t mean it’s not their money.”
Actually, it definitely does mean it’s not their money. Definitely. Bigly, as Trump might say.
To hear Patton tell it, the ‘Trump Foundation’ is not a separate legal entity over which they act as custodians but more like a separate Trump Family bank account. Just because a different title is on the check doesn’t mean it’s not their money. What interests me is that this woman works very closely with the Trump family and has for years. Rather than just being her personal misunderstanding, it sounds like this may be how it works in the Trump family.