A nonprofit group aligned with Donald Trump and his presidential campaign held a cash giveaway in Cleveland last month, handing out tens of thousands of dollars in several-hundred-dollar increments, and plans on a tour of similar events in black communities across the country, Politico reported Wednesday. The Urban Revitalization Coalition—a group founded and run by prominent Trump supporter Darrell Scott, who also serves as the co-chair of the Trump campaign’s “Black Voices for Trump”—hosted the event in Scott’s hometown of Cleveland. Organizers of the event, where winners were drawn and handed envelopes stuffed with cash, told Politico that the event aimed to promote “economic development in inner cities” and was “run by the book.”
It’s unclear which book they’re referring to. The Urban Revitalization Coalition is registered as a 501(c)3 charitable organization, allowing its donors to make tax-deductible contributions to the cause while remaining anonymous. The group’s tax-exempt status raises questions about the propriety of indiscriminately handing out envelopes of money and whether doing so somehow serves a legitimate charitable or educational need, as required by law. The group would also be barred by law from engaging in electioneering. The group was first registered in Delaware in 2017, as part of an effort to push Trump’s tax overhaul. Scott has been one of Trump’s highest-profile black supporters and a frequent presence in the West Wing.
At the December Cleveland event, which the Cleveland Plain-Dealer covered, Scott made thinly veiled, disparaging references to anti-Trump forces, while his co-founder Kareem* Lanier defended Trump’s record in black communities. “President Donald Trump—the one that they say is racist—is the first president in the history of this country to incentivize people who have the money to put it into … urban areas,” Lanier said. The event was also attended by one of the administration’s highest-ranking black officials, Ja’Ron Smith, who serves as deputy assistant to the president.
One drawing winner, dressed as a Christmas elf, shouted, “Four more years of President Trump, yay!” after receiving her cash prize.
Correction, Jan. 29, 2020: This post originally misspelled Kareem Lanier’s first name.