There’s only one big question left unanswered by the work David Farenthold has done for the Washington Post on the true nature of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, Mark Sumner wrote at DailyKos.com (9/12): “Why is Fahrenthold the only one doing this work?”

For months we’ve known that Trump used money from his charity to buy football memorabilia, after Farenthold reported (7/1/16) that Trump used money donated for charity to buy himself a Denver Broncos helmet signed by Tim Tebow and a Tebow jersey in 2012.

Trump won with a bid of $12,000 and 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. The money came from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which is largely stocked with other people’s money. Trump is the foundation’s president. But, at the time of the auction, Farenthold noted, Trump had given none of his own money to the foundation for three years running.

Farenthold also reported (9/10/16) that the Trump Foundation in 2007 paid $20,000 to a children’s charity for a 6-foot painting of Trump that his wife, Melania, bought at an auction.

The Donald J. Trump Foundation is not like other charities. Farenthold’s investigation of the foundation — including examinations of 17 years of tax filings and interviews with more than 200 individuals or groups listed as donors or beneficiaries — found that it collects and spends money in a very unusual manner.

“For one thing, nearly all of its money comes from people other than Trump. In tax records, the last gift from Trump was in 2008. Since then, all of the donations have been other people’s money — an arrangement that experts say is almost unheard of for a family foundation,” Farenthold wrote.

“Trump then takes that money and generally does with it as he pleases. In many cases, he passes it on to other charities, which often are under the impression that it is Trump’s own money.”

In 2010, Trump was honored by a charity — the Palm Beach Police Foundation — for his “selfless support” of its cause.

Trump had earlier gone to a charity in New Jersey — the Charles Evans Foundation, named for a deceased businessman — and asked for a donation. Trump said he was raising money for the Palm Beach Police Foundation.

The Evans Foundation in 2009 and 2010 gave a total of $150,000 to the Trump foundation, which Trump had founded in 1987.

Trump’s foundation then turned around and made donations to the police group in South Florida. In those years, the Trump Foundation’s gifts totaled $150,000.

Trump was honored by the police foundation with the Palm Tree Award for his philanthropy, but Farenthold noted that Trump may have actually made money, as the gala was held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, and the police foundation paid to rent the room. It’s unclear how much was paid in 2010, but the police foundation reported in its tax filings that it rented Mar-a-Lago in 2014 for $276,463.

And Donald Trump has paid an IRS penalty for writing a $25,000 check to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013 from the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

At the time the money arrived, Bondi’s office was considering whether to launch an investigation into allegations of fraud by Trump University — accusations that Trump denies, Farenthold noted.

The Florida AG never started the investigation, Farenthold noted. Aides to Bondi and Trump say the gift and the case were unrelated. But Democrats have seized on what they see as a clear example of political influence improperly funded by Trump’s charity.

In that year’s tax filings, the Post reported, the Trump Foundation did not notify the IRS of this political donation. Instead, Trump’s foundation listed a donation — also for $25,000 — to a Kansas charity with a name similar to that of Bondi’s political group. In fact, Trump’s foundation had not given the Kansas group any money.

“And that’s just the tip of a massive iceberg that Fahrenthold has uncovered simply by sitting down with the documents of the Trump Foundation and working the phone to check the relationship between what Trump says his foundation is about, and the reality that Donald Trump has created a money laundering scheme with which he buys political influence (and keen toys) using other people’s money,” Sumner wrote.

Michael Isikoff also reported at Yahoo.com (9/9) that Trump’s foundation gave $100,000 in 2014 to the Citizens United Foundation, an arm of the sprawling right-wing network run by David Bossie, who is now Trump’s deputy campaign manager. The money was used to help finance a federal lawsuit against New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — the same public official who was suing the real estate mogul for fraud over the operations of Trump University, Isikoff noted.

Trump has claimed that he gives generously to charity from his own pocket: “I don’t have to give you records,” he told the Post earlier this year, “but I’ve given millions away.” Farenthold noted that efforts to verify those gifts have not succeeded, and Trump has refused to release his tax returns, which would show his charitable giving.

Trump has criticized his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for activities related to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, which he said was “the most corrupt enterprise in political history.”

The Clinton foundation employs more than 2,000 people and spent $242 mln in 2014, with about 88% of its budget spent on programs, CharityWatch reported in April, as it gave the foundation an “A” grade.

The most money the Trump foundation has ever reported having was $3.2 mln at the end of 2009, Farenthold reported. At last count, that total had shrunk to $1.3 mln. By comparison, Oprah Winfrey — who is worth $1.5 bln less than Trump, according to a Forbes magazine estimate — has a foundation with $242 mln in the bank. At the end of 2014, the Clinton Foundation had $440 mln in assets.

LOW-WAGE WORKERS STORM STATE CAPITALS FOR LIVING WAGE. On Monday (9/12), Rev. William Barber II’s Moral Mondays movement stormed the grounds of state capitols in 31 states, in what he claims is the largest simultaneous protest of its kind in the country’s history. And low-wage workers who have been part of the rapidly growing Fight for $15 movement were part of the demonstrations to tie their fight for economic justice to other fights, Bryce Covert reported at ThinkProgress.org (9/12).

Fran Marion, who has worked as a cashier at Popeye’s in Kansas City, Mo., for the last two years, was at her state capitol seeking a better life for her two teenage children and a raise from her current pay of $9.50 an hour.

“I’ve been making the same amount of money since I was 15, and I’m 36,” she said. “I don’t want my kids growing up with the same struggles I had.”

She has a difficult time providing for her children with the money she makes. “I have rent, I have the gas bill, water bill, phone bill,” she said. “Each month you got to choose between your kids and the rent, or your kids and the light bill. My kids, they suffer.”

According to organizers, thousands of low-wage workers like Marion took part in Monday’s protests, joining hundreds of faith leaders. Fast food workers dedicated the day to Myrna De Los Santos, a resident of Kansas City who worked for McDonald’s for four and a half years before her death August 27 at the age of 49.

De Los Santos died due to complications from her diabetes, something that protesters contend wouldn’t have happened if she had gotten Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act or made a higher wage. In 2013, Missouri’s legislature shot down an expansion of Medicaid, while Kansas City was blocked by the state from raising its minimum wage to $13 an hour in October of last year.

Marion was a friend of De Los Santos. She remembered her as a warm, happy, and passionate woman. “She was always at the front of the line [at protests] and smiling and encouraging, always,” she said. “Myrna was a beautiful person, always out here fighting with us.”

The Fight for $15 movement started with a strike in New York City in 2012 and has recently taken on more issues than demanding higher pay and the ability to unionize. At a national convention of the movement in August, workers and organizers connected their work to racial justice and the country’s history of slavery, vowing to fight against issues such as police violence and inequality in housing and education.

The 9/12 protests were also deliberately intersectional, calling not just for a $15 minimum wage but universal health care, criminal justice reform, voting rights, access to quality education, and equal protection under the law.

“Economic justice, poverty, and living wages…all the things that have to do with the just economy are the first principle of any truly religious moral endeavor,” Rev. Barber said. “Jesus starts his public ministry talking about the poor.” See fightfor15.org.

DEMS UNITE BEHIND SOCIAL SECURITY EXPANSION. Democrats are proceeding with plans to expand Social Security, while Republicans hope to cut benefits or raise the retirement age. Democratic Reps. Linda T. Sánchez (Calif.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), and Michael M. Honda (Calif.) announced legislation to expand Social Security by phasing out the cap on taxable income.

“We think this is a common sense way to extend the solvency of Social Security and to increase benefits,” said Sánchez, who added that the bill could move, if not in the current Congress then in the next one.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee also released statements from incumbent Democratic senators and Senate candidates saying they supported Social Security and Medicare expansion.

One of the co-signers was Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who said in a 2010 interview, “We can’t solve our budget crisis without dealing with our entitlements.”

Bennet, who now looks to have an easier path to re-election than what was once thought, said, “With our seniors living longer, expanding Social Security and securing its long-term solvency will ensure that our most vulnerable Americans who have paid into Social Security all their lives are guaranteed the retirement they deserve.”

Bennet was joined by Senate challengers including former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth, former Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, former North Carolina state Rep. Deborah Ross, California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, and former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold.

In addition, the campaigns of two other Senate candidates, Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania and Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy, told Roll Call they supported expansion.

IS HILLARY RIGHT ABOUT TRUMP’S ‘DEPLORABLES’? LOOK AT THE POLLLING DATA. Speaking at a fundraiser in New York (9/9), Hillary Clinton described half of opponent Donald Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” an evocative phrase that Clinton used to describe various forms of intolerance and bigotry.

“You know, just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites … He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric.”

Clinton went on to describe another “basket” of Trump supporters: “people who feel the government has let them down, the economy let them down, nobody cares about them.” She stressed that “[t]hose are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

Nevertheless, Judd Legum noted at ThinkProgress.org (9/10), some in the media were shocked — shocked! — that Clinton would suggest some Trump supporters are bigoted.

“Whether Clinton’s characterization is good political strategy is a matter of opinion. There is a case to be made that no matter how abhorrent a person’s views are we should seek to understand them, if not empathize,“ Legum wrote.

“But whether Clinton is correct is a factual matter.” And he noted that a Public Policy Polling survey taken in May found that about two-thirds of Trump supporters (65%) believe Obama is a Muslim.

The same poll found 59% of Trump supporters believe Obama was not born in the US.

These views are incorrect but are also racist and xenophobic,” Legum wrote. “They are rooted in the idea that a black man with an atypical name could not be a US-born Christian but must be a secret Muslim born in Africa.

“So when Hillary Clinton says half of Trump supporters hold bigoted views, she may be understating the issue.”

Survey data shows that significant chunks of Trump supporters hold even more extreme beliefs, he noted.

A poll of 16,000 Americans conducted by Reuters in June found that 40% of Trump supporters believed that blacks were more “lazy” than whites and nearly 50% believed blacks were more “violent” than whites. (A smaller percentage of Clinton supporters held these views.)

A national poll of 2,000 people in January by YouGov found that 20% of Trump supporters disagreed with Lincoln’s executive order, the Emancipation Proclamation, that freed southern slaves. Another 17% were not sure.

The polling data reveals that there is a substantial number of Trump supporters who are bigoted, intolerant, or worse, Legum noted.

“Is the percentage, as Clinton suggested, about 50%? That depends on how you define the various forms of bigotry within the Trump coalition. But, based on the polling, Clinton appears to be more likely to be downplaying the issue than overstating it.”

KY. GOV.: CLINTON ELECTION MAY REQUIRE ‘BLOOD TO BE SHED’. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin joined the ranks of the deplorables when he said at the Values Voters Summit (9/10) that the election of Hillary Clinton might require a violent uprising if the nation is to survive. “I did an interview and they said, ‘Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation?’ ... I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room.”

TRUMP FACES GAP IN CATHOLIC SUPPORT. Donald Trump’s slurs against not only Mexican immigrants but also Pope Francis may have put him in a deep hole with Catholics.

Polling from the Public Religion Research Institute in August showed Trump trailing Hillary Clinton by 55% to 33%.

An earlier Washington Post poll showed the figures even worse for Trump at 61% to 34%, a whopping 27-point lead. The Post wrote that Trump’s “biggest problem actually appears to be with ... Catholics.”

In contrast to Trump, Mitt Romney in 2012 lost the overall Catholic vote by just 2 points, 50% to 48%.

The 27-point shift toward Clinton by Catholics is the biggest demographic vote change among any group since 2012, James O’Shea noted at IrishCentral.com (8/29). Even Catholics who attend church weekly are siding with Clinton after they supported Romney by nine points in 2012.

While evangelical Protestants continue to support Trump, Catholics, who make up one quarter of the nation’s voters, are thinking differently. The Catholic vote is a key swing vote in every general election and Republicans have won it in five of the last eleven elections.

Trump is losing the Hispanic Catholic vote by 85% to 13%, but he is also losing the white Catholic vote by 2%.

Religion News Service columnist and Catholic administrator John Gehrig said that “Part of Catholics’ DNA is an appreciation for how Irish and other immigrants toiled and thrived in the shadow of a suspicious, fiercely anti-Catholic culture dominated by white Anglo-Saxon Protestants....

“When Trump calls for a religious test for Muslims entering the country; questions the faith of Hillary Clinton, President Obama and Mitt Romney; and demonizes undocumented immigrants as ‘rapists,’ it’s a reminder of the ugly nativism that Catholics once faced.”

Trump also has a Pope Francis problem. This past February, on a flight back to Rome after his trip to Mexico, the Pope was asked about his response to Trump’s infamous wall. “A person who thinks only about building walls — wherever they may be — and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. … I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”

Trump attacked Pope Francis in return, calling the pontiff’s comments “disgraceful.”

“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now with our current President,” Trump said.

FED ISN’T KEEPING INTEREST RATES TOO LOW. Donald Trump went on CNBC (9/12) and reminded the world that he doesn’t really seem to understand any aspect of public policy, Matt Yglesias wrote at Vox.com. “I believe it’s a false market,” Trump said of the current state of American stocks. “I don’t even invest in the stock market.”

Yglesias noted, “Trump’s personal financial disclosures to the Federal Election Commission have been fairly skimpy given the complicated nature of his finances, but they clearly show that he does in fact own millions of dollars in stock.

“What he thinks is false about the market is that he believes stock prices would fall if the Federal Reserve raised interest rates. He also thinks Fed Chair Janet Yellen should be ‘ashamed’ of what she’s doing to the country with her low interest rate policy. Trump then offered the theory that this is all being done to somehow help out Barack Obama….

“Versions of this kind of theory are pretty common in business circles, since business circles feature a lot of affluent white men who are generally ill-disposed toward the Democratic Party, but it doesn’t make any sense. After all, the way low interest rates are allegedly helping Obama is by improving economic conditions. But improving economic conditions is what the Fed is supposed to do. Why would they be ashamed?”

Kevin Drum noted at MotherJones.com (9/12) that the Fed has two mandates: keep employment high and price levels stable. “If inflation were high, that might call for higher interest rates to cool down the economy, but in fact inflation is very low. Likewise, if the economy were at full employment, that might permit higher interest rates. But although employment has improved considerably over the past few years, no one thinks we’re at full employment yet. In other words, the Fed simply has no reason to raise interest rates. ...

“What is the market telling us about the natural rate of interest right now? Well, the real rate of interest on AAA corporate bonds bounces around a bit, but at the moment yields are running about 1%. In Europe, corporate bonds yields are now negative. John Williams of the San Francisco Fed estimates that the natural rate of interest in the US is currently running at about 0.5%. The market is telling us that the natural rate of interest at the moment is very, very low.

“So pay no attention to the burbling. The market is telling us that interest rates should be low, and the Fed’s legal mandates are also telling us that interest rates should be low. Janet Yellen is doing just fine.”

From The Progressive Populist, October 1, 2016


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