WASHINGTON, March 9, 2017–In his first press conference in months, Donald Trump, through his attorney Sheri Dillon, said that hotel profits earned from foreign governments during his term would be donated to the U.S. Treasury.
“Just like with conflicts of interest, he wants to do more than what the Constitution requires. So President-elect Trump has decided, and we are announcing today, that he is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury,” Dillon said. “This way it is the American people who will profit.”
Besides being extremely vague—will it be gross profit? net? will he deduct costs? what kind of costs? will he report this publicly?—Donald Trump has made this kind of promise before, and rarely kept it.
Throughout his life, Donald Trump has made promises of charitable giving and often brags about his philanthropy. However, Trump has a long history of not following through on most of his charitable promises.
In 2015 the Trump campaign released a list that purportedly showed that Trump had donated $102 million to charity since 2010. However, a Washington Post analysis “found that not a single one of the gifts listed was actually a donation of Trump’s own money.”
From 1987 to 2017, the Post could find $7.8 million in personal giving, $5.5 of that going to his foundation. This number includes the $1.1 Trump donated in 2016, during his presidential campaign.
“The Art of the Deal” (pub. 1987)
Trump stated that he would donate the proceeds from his first book “[t]o the homeless, to Vietnam veterans, for AIDS, multiple sclerosis,” in an interview with the New York Times in 1988. Trump said, “[o]riginally, I figured they’d get a couple of hundred thousand, but because of the success of ‘The Art of the Deal,’ they’ll get four or five million.’’
A Washington Post analysis of Donald Trump’s charitable giving found that between 1987 and 1991, Trump gave $1.9 million to his foundation out of his own pocket. However, during that period, Trump gave only $143,700 to charities named above ($101,000 to veterans, $26,000 to homeless charities, $12,450 to AIDS charities and $4,250 to MS charities). The rest of the funds (almost 92 percent) were given to charities that Trump has personal ties to like his high school and college as well as society galas.
Advisor to Mike Tyson
Promised: $2 million
In 1988, Trump took a board member position to advise Mike Tyson.
“Anything I make from this position will go to charities fighting AIDS, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and helping the homeless,” Trump said to reporters at the time.
Trump later told the press that the fee for his advisory position to Mike Tyson had been $2 million, to be donated to his foundation. However, there is no record of a $2 million donation from Tyson.
In 1988, Trump donated $500,000 of his money to his foundation, and as stated above, the charities named by Trump only got $143,700 from the foundation between 1987 and 1991.
That same year (1988) Trump also promised $50,000 from his appearance in a Pepsi commercial with Mike Tyson to charity. At the time, Trump told Fortune Magazine that he would donate the $50,000 from Pepsi and match it with $50,000 “to his favorite charities, including AIDS Research and United Cerebral Palsy.”
Fortune also reports that at the time, June 1988, Trump’s “Art of the Deal” had already made Trump over $500,000 in proceeds that were to be donated to charity.
Again, between 1987 and 1991, Trump’s foundation only gave $143,700 to the charities mentioned above.
Total promised in 1988: $6.1-7.1 million
Total donated to DJT Foundation: $500,000
Trump: The Game
Promised: $20 million
At the unveiling of his ultimately unpopular board game in 1989, Trump again publicly offered proceeds to charity.
“I am acting as an agent for charities,” said Trump at the time, estimating the game would bring in $20 million for charity. When the game failed to sell, Milton Bradley changed the TV commercial to include a voice-over stating, “Mr. Trump’s proceeds from Trump: The Game will be donated to charity.”
Trump stated that the game made him $880,000, but that he had donated $1 million to charity. Trump did donate $1 million to his foundation that year, but as stated above, very little of it went to the big-name charities that Trump often spoke about publicly.
However, in a 1991 court case against him, Trump admitted that the proceeds from the game did not go directly to charity, but to his personal accounts. Trump stated that he ultimately passed the money on to his foundation.
Promised in 1989: $20 million
Total donated to DJT Foundation in 1989: $1 million
Pizza Hut Commercial
Promised: $1.4 million
Trump and his ex-wife, Ivana, appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial in 1995. He told the New York Times at the time that he was donating the fees he and Ivana got to charity. Trump reportedly told an Australian newspaper, the Herald Sun, that his fee for the commercial was $1.4 million, but he would only donate a portion of it to charity.
Nation’s Day Parade
Promised/Claimed: $1 million
Trump’s own website states that in 1995, “Mr. Trump made a $1 million matching donation to finance the Nation’s Day Parade.”
According to the administrator of the Nation’s Day Parade in 1995, Trump’s contribution was not $1 million, but between $325,000 and $375,000.
Total promised in 1995: $2.4 million
Total donated to DJT Foundation in 1995: $60,000
Promised: $1 million
Trump appeared in a McDonald’s commercial in 2002. At the time, the Chicago Sun Times reported that Trump’s fee for the commercial was $1 million and that the entire amount would be donated to charity.
Promised in 2002: $1 million
Total donated to DJT Foundation in 2002: $287,000.
Promised: $2.5 million
In 2004, Trump told Howard Stern that he was donating the $2.5 million dollars he was getting for his reality show to charity.
In 2004, Trump gave $700,000 to his foundation.
The Apprentice with Trump aired from 2004 to 2015. Throughout this time, Trump made repeated promises to personally donate to charity, totaling $464,000, according to an analysis by the Washington Post.
“The Washington Post tracked all the ‘personal’ gifts that Trump promised on the show — during 83 episodes and seven seasons — but could not confirm a single case in which Trump actually sent a gift from his own pocket,” write David Fahrenthold and Alice Crites in a piece about Trump’s charitable promises on the show.
University of Buffalo Speech
Also in 2004, the University of Buffalo paid Trump $200,000 for a speech, which Trump called “a bargain’,” since he usually charged $300,000 to speak.
Again, Trump promised to give the entire fee to charity.
“I give it all away,” Trump said to the Buffalo News. “Every time I make a speech, I give it away. That’s one of the reasons I make speeches. I like giving away money to worthy charities. I get a lot of money, and it is not hard for me to speak, and it works out well.”
Total promised in 2004: $2.7 million + $464,000 in subsequent promises on camera
Total donated to DJT Foundation in 2004: $700,000
Learning Annex and other speeches
Promised: at least $1.5 million
In 2005 Trump gave a series of speeches about real estate for the Learning Annex, where he was reportedly paid $1.5 million per speech.
“That is $25,000 a minute,” raved a press release from the Learning Annex at the time. “It is also the highest price ever paid for a speech.”
“Well, you know what I don’t do it for that and I give a lot of money away to charity,” he told CNN’s Larry King in 2006.
“I give two-hour speeches at the Learning Annex Wealth Expos,” writes Trump in his book Think BIG and Kick Ass in Business and Life. “I donate a large portion of my speaking fees to charity.”
Trump was forced to admit that the actual speaking fee from the Learning Annex was $400,000 in a 2006 deposition.
Promised: Profits from vodka sales (unknown)
Also in 2005, as Trump introduced his branded vodka, he said he would donate all the proceeds to MADD, Mothers Against Dunk Driving.
“I’m going to give 100 percent of that money to them in honor of my late brother, Fred Trump,” Trump said. “I guarantee you that Fred is looking down now and saying, ‘That’s really the best thing to do.’”
Trump representatives did contact MADD about a donation in 2006, but were turned down due to the organization’s policy against receiving money form the sale of alcohol.
In 2008 the company stated that sales proceeds would be donated to the Walter Reed Society. According to CNN, Walter Reed’s administrator stated that the donation from Trump vodka was no more than “a few hundred dollars.”
In 2005, Trump gave $600,000 to his foundation.
Promised: Profits from university (unknown)
At the inaugural news conference in 2005, Trump vowed to give all profits from Trump University to charity. According to the New York attorney general, between 2005 and 2010, Trump made over $5 million in profits from Trump University. Trump has admitted that he has given none of it to charity.
Total promised for 2005: at least $1.5 million + profits from Trump vodka and Trump University
Total donated to DJT Foundation in 2005: $600,000
Fisher House donation
Promised: $100,000 (paid by the DJT Foundation)
In 2007, the city of Palm Beach sued Donald Trump over the height of a flagpole at his Mar-a-Lago resort that was in violation of city ordinances. Trump settled, agreeing to pay Fisher House, a veterans’ charity, $100,000.
Fisher House did receive $100,000, but the check came from Trump’s foundation, and not Trump himself or the resort.
In 2007, Trump gave $35,000 to his foundation.
Promised in 2007: $100,000
Total donated to DJT Foundation in 2007: $35,000
Muammar Qadhafi rental
Promised: “a lot of money”
In 2009 Trump made a deal to rent his 230-acre Westchester, New York estate to Muammar Qadhafi, the Libyan dictator while he attended a United Nations General Assembly meeting.
“I made a lot of money with Qadhafi, if you remember,” Trump said to CBS’s John Dickerson in a 2016 interview, “He paid me a fortune, never got to stay there, and it became sort of a big joke.”
However, Buzzfeed reports that during that same year, Trump asked to meet the Libyian dictator to discuss business possibilities.
Years earlier, Trump had promised the money he had made off Qadhafi had been donated to charity.
“I said, when I did it, ‘I’m going to take Qadhafi’s money. I’m not going make it easy on him, and I’m going to give the money to charity.’ And that’s exactly what I did,” Trump said to CNN in 2011.
However, Trump did not make any personal contributions to his foundation between 2009 and 2014, the most recent year for which records are available.
Total donated to DJT Foundation in 2009: $0
Trump Your Life
Promised: “a fortune”
In 2010 New Zealand held a lottery called “Trump Up Your Life.”
“The winner gets to take three friends to New York and experience life ‘Trump-style’ for a week – flash flights, flash digs (the brand new Trump Soho NYC hotel), $10,000 spending money each, chauffeur-driven limo, personal shopper, hairstylist and photographer, and $100,000 for the winner on their return. Oh, and – subject to availability – a meeting with the man under that extraordinary hair himself.”
Trump was reportedly “paid a fortune for his participation.”
The exact amount was not reported, but Trump said, “I gave it all to charity anyway,” to the Sunday Star Times.
Total donated to DJT Foundation in 2010: $0
Comedy Central Roast
Promised: $2 million
In 2011, Comedy Central reportedly paid Trump $2 million for a roast hosted by Seth McFarlane.
“Trump plans to donate his ENTIRE paycheck to charity,” Trump representatives told TMZ.
“Well, you know, interestingly, Comedy Central — which was a tremendous success for them and for me because I raised a lot of money for charity — they paid me a lot, which I have given to charity, so therefore I could laugh a little bit more,” Trump said in 2011.
Trump did not make any personal contributions to his foundation between 2009 and 2014, the most recent year for which records are available. There is a $400,000 donation from Comedy Central to the foundation in 2011.
Promised in 2011: $2 million
Total donated to DJT Foundation in 2011: $0
Promised: $1 -5 million
When Trump’s latest book went on sale in 2015, Trump stated to reporters that the proceeds would be donated to charity, as did his employees.
“The profits of my book?” Trump asked at a press conference. “I’m giving them away, to a lot of different — including the vets. ’Kay?”
By May 2016, election disclosure forms filed by Trump reveal that he had already made between $1 million and $5 million in royalties form the book. There is no record of any funds going to charity.
Promised in 2016: $1 -5 million
Total donated to DJT Foundation in 2015: $0
Promised: $1 million
In January 2016 Trump held a fundraiser for veterans instead of attending one of the Republican presidential debates. Trump promised to give $1 million of his own money to veterans’ charities.
Trump did make good on his promise, but not until after the media pressed him about it.
Total donated to DJT Foundation in 2016: ?
Donated to Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation in 2016: $1 million
TOTAL PROMISED: $19,144,000- $45,144,000 +profits from Trump Vodka, Trump University, Trump your Life, Qadhafi rental
TOTAL ACTUALLY DONATED: $7.8 MILLION (includes $5.5 million to DJT Foundation and $1.1 million donated in 2016)
||Donated to Donald J. Trump Foundation
||Donated directly (known without tax returns)
||*”Art of the Deal” proceeds $4,000,000 to $5,000,000
*Advisor to Mike Tyson $2,000,000
* Pepsi commercial $100,000
||Trump: The Game $20,000,000
||$264,651 for Central Park Fountain in front of his hotel
||*Pizza Hut commercial $1,400,000
*Nation’s Day Parade (Still claimed on his site) $1,000,000
||Between $325,000 and $375,000 for Nation’s Day parade
||McDonald’s commercial $1,000,000
||*The Apprentice $2,500,000
*University of Buffalo Speech $200,000
*Subsequent promises of donations on The Apprentice $464,000
||*Learning Annex speeches (at least) $1,500,000
*Trump Vodka proceeds (unknown)
*Trump University proceeds (unknown)
||Fisher House $100,000
||Muammar Qadhafi rental “a lot of money”
||Trump Your Life “a fortune”
||Comedy Central Roast $2,000,000
||“Crippled America” $1,000,000 to $5,000,000
||Veterans’ fundraiser $1,000,000
||$1,000,000 to vets orgs. After press pressured him
$100,000 church after disaster
||$19,144,000 to $45,144,000 PLUS profits from
Trump University Trump Your Life Qadhafi rental
Featured image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons