President Donald Trump likes to talk tough about Mexican drug cartels, but the Trump family business has actually operated like those money-laundering syndicates in the past, according to Dan Alexander of Forbes.
Alexander recently dove into the suspicious finances of the Eric Trump Foundation's charity golf invitational - a sporting event held every autumn at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester, New York. The perfect place to hold a benefit for the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital since - as Eric Trump has often boasted - the Foundation can use the course for free, allowing more money to go toward helping sick kids.
But that's not true, according to Alexander. Since 2011, the Foundation has been paying a whopping price to use the course, according to tax filings. Things took an abrupt turn that year when Trump flipped out about the Foundation's finances. "'I don't care if it's my son or not - everybody gets billed,'" Trump said according to Ian Gillule, the former membership and marketing director at Trump National.
So even though Trump's personal wealth is estimated to be in the billions, he still wanted a cut of that cash for sick kids. Apparently stealing candy from a baby is even easier when the kid's terminally ill.
Trump initially helped offset the extra expenses incurred by offering Eric's foundation a gift of $100,000. That contribution allowed Eric to channel the proceeds of the tournament to the hospital. But the way that the family handled that transaction was suspicious.
"[T]his maneuver would appear to have more in common with a drug cartel's money-laundering operation than a charity's best-practices textbook," Alexander wrote. "That $100,000 in outside donations to the Donald J. Trump Foundation passed through the Eric Trump Foundation - and wound up in the coffers of Donald Trump's private businesses."
Since then, the Foundation has picked up the tab for its bills, which have ballooned over the years. The tournament's annual expenses rose from $46,000 to $142,000 in 2011, then to $230,000 in 2013, and $242,000 in 2014 before hitting the new high-water mark of $322,000 in 2015. And experts aren't sure what the Foundation is paying for exactly since Eric Trump declined Forbes' request for an itemized list. But we do know that the costs far exceed what industry experts would expect of an event like that -- especially since drinks were often donated and entertainers like Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister performed for free.
"Forbes couldn't come up with a plausible path to $322,000 given the parameters of the annual event (a golf outing for about 200 and dinner for perhaps 400 more)," Alexander noted. "Neither could golf tournament experts or the former head golf professional at Trump National Westchester. 'If you gave me that much money to run a tournament, I couldn't imagine what we could do," says Patrick Langan, who worked at the club from 2006 to 2015. "It certainly wasn't done that way.'"
So maybe Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop threatening marijuana users and start cracking down on white-collar cartels.