Mr. ‘Good Deals’ Trump Used Charity Money For This Terrible, And Possibly Illegal, Purchase


Donald Trump loves to talk about what an awesome businessman he is, and how as president, he would make “good deals.” There have already been questions about whether his business acumen is what he claims it is, and now Washington Post report throws more light on just how wise a dealmaker The Donald is.

According to the report, four years ago Trump found himself in a bidding war during a charity auction in Florida. The auction was being held by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a breast cancer charity. The items the author of The Art Of The Deal was bidding on were a Denver Broncos helmet and jersey autographed by quarterback Tim Tebow. Trump eventually prevailed, paying some $12,000 for the two pieces of memorabilia.

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Today you can buy an autographed Tebow Broncos helmet for $381.99 at SportsMemorabilia.com. In fact, that same website is selling a Tim Tebow autographed Florida Gators helmet for $817.99. Tebow enjoyed much more success at the college level than he did in the NFL, making that piece of memorabilia worth much more, but still nowhere near $12,000. The site GoldInAuctions.com sold the same autographed helmet/jersey combo that Trump bought for $445.50. It received only six bids.

But wait, you say, His Trump-ness was bidding on these items for charity, and it didn’t matter to a man of his massively huge wealth that he was paying well over market price for them. Therein lies the potential problem, and the one that could land Trump in hot water with the IRS. The WaPo report says when the Komen Foundation received payment for the helmet and jersey, it was with a check drawn on Donald J. Trump Foundation funds.

Tax experts say that if Trump kept the items, he is in violation of IRS rules concerning “self-dealing.” those rules make it illegal for foundations such as Trump’s to furnish goods to their own officers. If that happens, the person who violated the rule must report the purchase to the IRS, and may be subject to a tax penalty. And, the WaPo report adds, failure to mention the purchase on a tax return may subject the violator to further penalties. The Trump Foundation’s 2012 return had checked the box for “no,” affirming that it had not broken the self-dealing rule.

Trump could get around the rule if he gave the items to another charity. John Edie, retired general counsel to the Council on Foundations, told the Post:

If … the foundation paid for it, and they owned the helmet, and the helmet was given to someone as a charitable activity.

Edie added that buying the helmet and giving it to a friend would not qualify as a “charitable activity.”

So what happened to the helmet and jersey? At this point, nobody seems to know. Last September the Wall Street Journal released a video which featured Trump giving a reporter a tour of his office. He shows off a table of sports memorabilia, but the Tebow helmet and jersey do not appear to be among his collection.

Of course, after Trump bought the items, Tebow’s brief NFL career soon came to an end. That would probably make the two-time NCAA national championship and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback a “loser” in the eyes of the presumptive GOP nominee. And we all know what Trump thinks of losers — except for losers named “Trump.”


Featured image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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