Trump University has been under fire for some time now. As one aspect of the fraud that was the “university” gets the spotlight on Wednesday — the alleged campaign donations to Pam Bondi in exchange for dropping the investigation into the university — it is also important to point out another related fraud that is Donald Trump.
As the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has stated unequivocally and repeatedly, Trump University was “a fraud from top to bottom.” As both Schneiderman and others have alleged, the fraud began with the very name of the venture — that it was called a “university” is itself a fraud.
And as with any fraud, it was then buttressed by more fraud in covering up the original fraud. Clearly, what seemed to have occurred with Pam Bondi is part of that — certainly not all of it. It began with a donation of $25,000 from Trump’s charitable foundation to the Bondi campaign. And unlike the allegations against the Clintons where people claim the “optics” don’t look good, in the case of Trump, it is not just the optics, but the whole thing.
In fact, this single transaction says so much about Trump, and at the same time, provides some much needed perspective between fraud and what the Clintons have done. First, it says that the Trump Foundation is anything but “charitable.” It is nothing but a piggybank for Donald Trump primarily funded by people other than Donald Trump. The Washington Post did a complete takedown of the Trump Foundation going through whatever meager documentation there was, noting that much of the accounting was in handwritten notes.
When it came to Pam Bondi, Trump probably — amateurishly — believed that he was somehow covering up his tracks by having his foundation make the contribution. And Trump’s entire operation is and was so unsophisticated that no one in that operation — including his long time in house lawyer, Michael Cohen — even thought to point out that the transaction was likely illegal on its own, without regard to Trump U. Clearly, the contribution was illegal and one for Trump has now paid a penalty to the IRS.
But apparently, Trump U. was such an astounding fraud that $25,000 did not justify Bondi dropping the investigation. Indeed, it required $125,000 in contributions to the Republican Party of Florida, and a separate fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago for Ms. Bondi. Whether or not all of this was, in fact, a bribe is for further investigation. But if what the Clintons have done does not smell too good to some, what Trump has done must really stink.
The fundraiser in Mar-a-Lago also highlights another highly questionable aspect of Trump and his campaign. Apparently, when for Pam Bondi, Mar-a-Lago can be rented for $4,855.65. But when Donald Trump’s campaign donors are paying for it, it can cost as much as $140,000. To be sure, different spaces and different square footage at a venue certainly reflect in the rent. However, that does not address the issue.
It is one thing for a candidate to reimburse him or herself for the cost of a venue. It is a wholly different thing for that candidate to actually create profit centers so that he can profit from the money that donors give him. Trump is clearly doing the latter. And if what he has done in Mar-a-Lago does not seem obvious enough, one need go no farther than the Trump campaign headquarters, where the Trump campaign was paying $35,458 per month for rent while Trump was self-funding his campaign, but when he stopped self-funding, the very next month, the rent for his headquarters nearly quintupled to $169,758, even though it employed fewer staffers.
While the Clintons have come under fire for alleged bad “optics” for a widely praised charity, that has received higher ratings than the American Red Cross, and which has helped millions of people worldwide, Trump has received relatively little attention for a pattern of operating which would be comical if it were not all too real. Virtually every place one looks with Trump wreaks of questionable conduct, buffoonery and lack of sophistication.
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely those of the contributor and do no necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Slant.