Mar-a-Lago Red Cross Gala Raises Questions

(The gates of luxury: outside of Mar-a-Lago)

Does it matter where you host your charity gala?

The days following Trump’s January 27 executive order were chaos. Customs and Border Protection agents were abruptly tasked with barring Syrian refugees’ entry to the United States indefinitely, blocking all other refugees for 120 days, and preventing the entry of all citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries for 90 days. The plan was ill-defined and generated immense consternation among those enforcing it. It also created tremendous backlash, bringing protesters out to airports in support of refugees and in opposition to the targeting of a single religion, Islam.

A familiar charity – the Red Cross – was at JFK Airport in New York, providing basic provisions to those impacted by the order, just as they have done since 1881 for others dislocated by major events.

According to the American Red Cross’s 2015 990, the group received over $46 million in government grants. Not a significant amount when factoring in annual gross receipts over $3 billion. But is it a conflict of interest to accept funding from a government that creates duress for those the nonprofit is supposed to serve?

Consider this: The American Red Cross recently hosted its annual charity gala at Mar-a-Lago, a Trump property, which has become known as the Winter White House. The Trumps attended the gala and offered praise to the organization.

Optics matter. Nonprofits should be mindful of the potential repercussions of their actions. Fixing with one hand what the other breaks isn’t going to make any real progress.

New York AG Investigates Trump Foundation

(Photo: Gage Skidmore)

While the Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton has drawn scrutiny for the international dealings of the Clinton Foundation, her opponent for the White House is mired in his own host of controversies relating to his philanthropic enterprise.

On Tuesday, the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that his office was opening an inquiry into the The Donald J. Trump Foundation. Schneiderman told CNN:

We’ve inquired into it. We’ve had correspondence with them. I didn’t make a big deal out of it or hold a press conference. But we have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it’s complying with the laws governing charities in New York.

The investigation emerges following a string of reports from the Washington Post that Donald Trump may have used contributions to his namesake foundation for personal expenses. The Republican presidential candidate also received heat on the campaign trail for asserting that his campaign raised $6 million for veterans charities, including $1 million donated by the real estate tycoon himself.

These claims have never been verified.

The Trump Foundation is no stranger to controversy. Earlier this month, the philanthropic entity was fined for a political donation to a group supporting the reelection bid of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013. Bondi was tasked with deciding whether or not to pursue fraud charges against the now defunct Trump University. The fake institution of higher education scammed thousands of people through deceitful sales practices designed to prey on people’s financial insecurities.

The Trump campaign has lashed out, calling the New York Attorney General a “partisan hack.” But if the foundation’s own foot print is anything to go by, uncovering further malfeasance would hardly be a big surprise.

Trump Uses Antisemitic Meme to Justify Antisemitic Meme

Donald Trump is certainly no stranger to controversy. The highly unpopular presumptive Republican nominee for president has alienated a number of demographics through his improvisational, reactive brand of demagogic populism. From mocking a disabled reporter to accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists, Trump’s most offensive moments have somehow left the reality star-turned-candidate relatively unscathed.

That may be changing.

Following his rivals’ departure from the GOP’s presidential primary, Trump’s mercurial temperament may finally be catching up to him as the general electorate scrutinizes his unsavory and offensive style, which often veers into blunt racism and fear-mongering.

His favorability ratings are abysmal, particularly among important demographics including women and latinos, groups whose support is essential for a winning Republican coalition in November.

Trump now appears to be digging himself into an even larger hole. One of the candidate’s recent tweets featured a meme calling Hillary Clinton the “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever.” The image also featured a Star of David overlaid on a pool of cash. It remained on Twitter for several hours before being taken down and replaced with a doctored version.

The website Mic was able to trace the meme to a forum popular with the “alt-right,” a movement steeped in neo-nazi ideology and antisemitism.

At a rally this week in Cincinnati, Trump expended a considerable amount of energy defending the image, accusing the media of dishonesty in bringing up its racist undertones. Much to the confusion of political commentators who figured that Trump would make political use of recent developments pertaining to Clinton’s private email server, Trump instead focused on the meme, stating that if he had the opportunity again, he would have left it up.

The mogul has since tweeted another image depicting a sticker book themed with Disney’s film Frozen which also includes a Star of David, rhetorically asking if the book should attract the same degree of outrage sparked by the Clinton meme. Ironically, it turns out that image itself was taken from yet another antisemitic user from the same racist web forum that gave us the Clinton meme.

Trump completely missed the original point that juxtaposing the Star of David and a pool of money peddles very dangerous anti-Jewish stereotypes that we have seen before.

Whether or not Trump’s continued inability to rebuke his antisemitic followers or cease his own dissemination of racist memes changes the landscape of the general election remains to be seen. But if his horrendous track record offending women or latinos had any correlation to Trump’s poor polling numbers with those groups, then the candidate will fare even worse at the polls than he is currently slated to.

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