The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold has spent months going through records and talking to people to try to figure out whether Donald Trump is really as charitable as he claims to be. At this point in the campaign, it should surprise no one that the answer is no. In fact, Fahrentold found only one personal donation from Trump between 2008 to the spring of this year: a gift to the Police Athletic League of New York City worth less than $10,000. (Slate’s Isaac Chotiner recently interviewed Fahrenthold about his experience covering the Trump beat.)
Although Trump, particularly through his foundation, did give some money to charity over the years, much of it was self-serving and the dollar amounts of his contributions were often much less than what he made it seem. Fahrenthold’s story is filled with examples that show this pattern in Trump’s unique brand of philanthropy, but here are five of the most galling, in no particular order:
1. The time Trump crashed a fundraiser. When the Association to Benefit Children held an event in Manhattan to celebrate the opening of a new nursery school in 1996, everyone was shocked when Trump showed up and just settled in alongside the donors. He had never given a cent to the charity but took a seat that was reserved for Steven Fisher, a developer who had in fact given lots of money to build the nursery. Trump performed for the cameras—he even danced the Macarena!—and then left without saying a word or giving any money.
2. The time Trump grabbed the spotlight at an event honoring an employee. For years, Trump relied on longtime employee Barbara Res to convince contractors to donate to charity galas sponsored by then-wife Ivana. But when she got an award, Trump didn’t buy any tables at the gala or sponsor the event as was customary for the employers of the honorees. He bought a $100 ticket to the event and then managed to convince someone to give him the microphone. He spoke for 15 minutes and made it seem like he had been a big contributor to the event.
3. The time he gave $200 to a chess team that needed $5,000. In 1997, Trump was “principal for a day” at a school in the Bronx. The chess team was holding a bake sale to raise money to travel to a tournament. He handed the team a fake million-dollar bill and a measly $200.
4. The time he was forced to honor a promise he made on TV. When Trump skipped a GOP primary debate in January, he held a televised fundraiser for veterans instead. He said he would donate $1 million to the cause. But that money only materialized after the Post and other media outlets began asking questions.
5. The time the Trump foundation gave $264,631 to fix a fountain outside one of his hotels. The biggest donation that the Trump foundation ever gave appears to have been to contribute to fixing a fountain outside of the Plaza Hotel, which he owned at the time. “It shows you what this [foundation] is all about. Which is basically just about advancing Trump’s interests,” said Brian Galle, a professor of tax law at Georgetown University.