What happens when a billionaire renowned for self-enrichment and power devises a scheme to raise funds for American veterans instead of participating in the Republican primary debate? When it’s Donald J. Trump, a lot. A lot of PR, that is. But it’s not all good.
Trump’s website Donald Trump for Vets is nothing more than a single page with stock photos and a credit card donation form that claims “100% of your donations will go directly to Veterans needs.” There’s only one problem: 100% of the money raised on the site goes directly to Donald Trump’s personal non-profit foundation, according to a disclosure listed at the bottom of the page, in the fine print.
So where will the money go from there? Well, that’s entirely up to Mr. Trump.
As Reuters points out, Trump is under no requirement whatsoever – legal or otherwise – to choose the recipient of the donations prior to collecting them. He could decide a month or even a year from now. It’s his choice.
It should be noted that when it comes to veterans, Trump’s rhetoric is much more generous that his giving record. Trump has donated just $57,000 to military veterans out of the $5.5 million his foundation donated between 2009 and 2013. According to 2015 Forbes analysis, barely 1 percent of the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s $5.5 million worth of donations went to organizations that support military veterans. And while he’s been touting the Wounded Warrior Project for months, Wounded Warriors wasn’t even among the seven organizations that were listed.
What’s ironic is that Trump has considered veterans — especially New York City disabled veterans — an “eyesore” on the tony streets of New York City. He’s tried his best to get rid of them more than once since the 1990s.
More ironic is website, which instead of depicting American veterans features a bunch of foreign models in camouflage, from a Ukrainian actor to a German photographer. This isn’t the first time the Trump campaign has posted fake photos of American soldiers. Mother Jones reported that in July, the billionaire tweeted a photo of men in Nazi uniforms superimposed over the American flag. Just last week, Trump used a photo of Russian soldiers in an ad geared toward American veterans. And back in January Trump’s campaign posted a video to show his love for American veterans but instead it showed men wearing Russian military ribbons. The photo, it seems, goes back to Russia’s Victory Day celebration in 2014.
Many veterans groups have told the billionaire to keep his money, while others continue to scrutinize his history with vets. And strange as it may seem, for an event touted by Trump to raise funds for veterans and Wounded Warriors, a public relations manager for the Wounded Warrior Project told NBC News on Thursday that they were “not aware of any fundraising efforts on our behalf with Mr. Donald Trump.”
It would be wonderful, of course, if Trump would be a good steward of his donated $6 million. Time will tell. But for a man who estimates and frequently touts his net worth at more than $10 billion, it cannot be ignored that what he’s given to veterans years past is peanuts.
Images of not real soldiers: Shuttershock.
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