One of the first rules about giving is not parading it for all the world to see.
There’s a difference between me sharing with someone that my family and I have financially supported Compassion Australia for nearly two decades, and me boasting about how much money we’ve given to them.
Unless those asking are the tax office, it should be enough to simply state the fact about our giving, without having to prove it with subtotal, decimal, and dollar sign.
For the sake acknowledging it. The exceptions here are small businesses and corporations. Transparency exists for tax purposes. Accountability on giving to charity from a corporate income is as much for shareholders as it is for tax payers, re: the appropriate governing bodies.
Giving from personal income operates by a similar accountability structure, but has a different set of rules when it comes to freedom of information. Anonymity is to be applauded and protected. It’s none of anyone else’s business how much an individual gives from their own personal income.
There’s also a difference between a foundation, set up in a person’s name, giving to charities, and donating money to charities from that person’s own finances.
Businesses never refer to a product, or cash given out to meet a charitable need, as having been given out by the CEO, or his family. They correctly state that the business donated them.
The foundation has to be transparent; the individual doesn’t. He, or she, can remain anonymous.
As Jesus emphasized twice in His criticism of hypocrites posturing righteousness in public for all to see: ‘when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others…when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’ (Matthew 6:3-4, ESV)
This criterion makes the morbid quest to squeeze Trump’s wallet for information that could discredit his presidency, all the more lopsided and vindictive.
As The New Yorker’s, John Cassidy made more than clear in his 2016 piece on ‘Trump & the Truth: His Charitable Giving.’ Cassidy’s piece reached hard for the fraud card, up to criticizing Trump for where, when, and how much, Trump was donating of his own money to charity.
Forbes, in a convoluted attempt at the same game, insinuated that then Presidential candidate – whom they estimated to be worth ‘$3.5 billion’ – put revenue before helping ‘kids with cancer.’
Forbes accused Trump of having ‘paid their businesses with charity money.’ Speculating that money changing hands, ‘had more in common with a drug cartel’s money-laundering operation than a charity’s best-practices textbook.’
In short, Forbes acknowledges that the Trump family gives to charity, but isn’t happy about the amount they give, where, or how they do it.
Outlining how Trump’s charities allegedly paid Trump organizations for services rendered. Forbes questions the legal and ethical aspects of Trump Charity organizations, but ultimately feeds into the now far too common dissonance of “hate Trump, because love trumps hate”.
Worth noting. Forbes lists this article as one of their “best pieces of the decade.”
Most recently, Phillip Hackeney penned a piece published by NBCNEWS, responding to news about a Nov. 2019 court ruling by Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the N.Y. Supreme Court, ordering that Trump to pay $2 million in restitution for alleged misuse of Trump foundation funds.
The ruling was based on arguments presented by N.Y. Attorney General Barbara Underwood (who’d boasted about the ruling on Twitter), alleging that the Trump family ‘”illegally” used Trump foundation to further Trump’s political interests.’
The Trump’s responded by noting that all the funds collected were eventually donated to the designated charities – something Judge Scarpulla acknowledged (NBC).
Nevertheless, the Trump family were ordered to pay the $2 million to three charities, presumably pre-chosen by the prosecuting Attorney General.
It was a political win against the President, not an ethical one.
Facebook’s “independent” fact-checkers are doing the same. Flagging posts about Trump’s giving as “missing context” isn’t out of a concern for ethics, or even charities, it’s about partisan political gain.
Snopes rated the above facts as “unproven”, even though they have video of Trump stating: “well, I have a lot of men down here, right now. We have over 100 and we have about 125 coming. So we’ll have a couple of hundred people down here. And they are very brave and what they’re doing is amazing. And we’ll be involved in some form in helping to reconstruct.”
USA Today claims they’re false, and the NY Times (predictably) doubts it.
My criticism isn’t about the attempt to keep Trump accountable for claims he makes about charitable giving. It’s the motive behind the “fact checking”.
By tone, it’s easy enough to discern how the real motivation isn’t to help charitable organizations. The motivation is to sink Trump.
Should said “fact checking” take down someone they don’t like, and win them a Pulitzer in the process? Well, hey, “it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.”
It’s rich for any journalist to accuse a family of being ‘vainglorious’. Only to then go looking for glory in a financial shake down of the Trump family’s charitable works.
Had Trump not been running for President, and had there been no potential personal benefit involved, it’s unlikely many in the Leftist dominated mainstream media would even care.
Have the New York Attorney General and others, chased how the $2 million ripped from the Trumps was spent by court designated charities, with the same vigor?
Have they looked into George Soros’ or the Clinton Foundation’s financial reach in the world of politics with the same scrutiny?
If I were in a diplomatic mood, I’d roll out the uber-understanding-wagon, layer on some sugar-coating, then dismiss the morbid quest to turn Trump into Scrooge, as a true-hearted selfless act of benevolence.
The truth is it isn’t. 2016 was an election year. As is 2020.
These are never-Trump self-serving gestures. Fueled by self-aggrandizement, and tinged with the flare of agitation propaganda, written for a rabid, radicalized mob who’s view of the Trump presidency only comes from the lens that’s been prescribed for them.
I doubt that even if Trump were to give away his entire fortune, those dragging him down, in order to raise themselves up, would find any benevolence in it.
Outbidding wars have their place in charitable auctions.
Outbidding wars over who is the greatest of givers has no place in politics.
For ‘each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor.9:6-7, ESV).
First published on Caldron Pool, 22nd September 2020.
©Rod Lampard, 2020