Charity begins at home.
That is a platitude that Donald Trump lives by. When you look at his record of charitable giving and his loaning money to his campaign, so he can repay himself from donor money, rather than donating to the campaign, the picture of Donald Trump as a money-grubbing, greedy, money-grubbing, insincere, money-grubbing liar and opportunist emerges.
Now we have another data point:
Four years ago, at a charity fundraiser in Palm Beach, Donald Trump got into a bidding war at the evening’s live auction. The items up for sale: A Denver Broncos helmet, autographed by then-star quarterback Tim Tebow, and a Tebow jersey.
Trump won, eventually, with a bid of $12,000. Afterward, he posed with the helmet. His purchase made gossip-column news: a flourish of generosity, by a mogul with money to burn. “The Donald giveth, and The Donald payeth,” wrote the Palm Beach Daily News. “Blessed be the name of The Donald.”
But Trump didn’t actually pay with his own money.
Instead, the Susan G. Komen organization — the breast-cancer nonprofit that hosted the party — got a $12,000 payment from another nonprofit , the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
Trump himself sent no money (In fact, a Komen spokesperson said, Trump has never given a personal gift of cash to the Komen organization). He paid the bill with money from a charity he founded in 1987, but which is largely stocked with other people’s money. Trump is the foundation’s president. But, at the time of the auction, Trump had given none of his own money to the foundation for three years running.
No one is talking about the fate of the items. If they are in Trump’s possession or if he gave them as gifts, that is a clear and blatant violation of the law. Even if the item is in the possession of Trump’s foundation, you still have the image of a self-aggrandizing Trump portraying the foundation’s donation as his own in order to get credit for being a philanthropist… exactly the way he behaved with the fundraiser for veterans charities until he was caught out.
There is, however, a postscript to the story that is a metaphor for basically every Trumpian business venture:
The same kind of autographed helmet and jersey that Trump bought for $12,000 are now available for about $415, total, online.