Donald Trump used money donated for charity to buy himself a Tim Tebow-signed football helmet

 By David A. Fahrenthold July 1

Donald Trump posed with the helmet he won at a live auction at a charity fundraiser in Palm Beach, Fla. in 2012. (Capehart Photography)

Did Donald Trump violate IRS rules, by using a charity’s money to buy himself a signed football helmet?

Four years ago, at a charity fundraiser in Palm Beach, Donald Trump got into a bidding war at the evening’s live auction. The items up for sale: A Denver Broncos helmet, autographed by then-star quarterback Tim Tebow, and a Tebow jersey.

Trump won, eventually, with a bid of $12,000. Afterward, he posed with the helmet. His purchase made gossip-column news: a flourish of generosity, by a mogul with money to burn. “The Donald giveth, and The Donald payeth,” wrote the Palm Beach Daily News. “Blessed be the name of The Donald.”

But Trump didn’t actually pay with his own money.

Instead, the Susan G. Komen organization — the breast-cancer nonprofit that hosted the party — got a $12,000 payment from another nonprofit , the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

Trump himself sent no money. (In fact, a Komen spokeswoman said, Trump has never given a personal gift of cash to the Komen organization.) He paid the bill with money from a charity he founded in 1987, but which is largely stocked with other people’s money. Trump is the foundation’spresident. But, at the time of the auction, Trump had given none of his own money to the foundation for three years running.

What we know about Trump’s charitable giving

Play Video1:24
Reporter David Fahrenthold is investigating how much presidential candidate Donald Trump has given to charity over the past seven years. Here’s what he found. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post discovered this unusual payment — a charity apparently buying sports memorabilia for a super-wealthy man — this week, during a reviewof Trump’s charitable giving.

Afterward, three experts on tax law questioned whether Trump had violated IRS rules against “self-dealing” — which are designed to keep nonprofit officials from using their charities to help themselves.

Those rules ban the “furnishing of goods” by private foundations — like Trump’s — to their own officers. If the rule is broken, the person who breaks it must notify the IRS and may have to pay a tax penalty. There could also be penalties for signing a tax return that failed to mention the violation. In 2012, the tax return for Trump’s foundation checked the boxes for “no,” it did not break the self-dealing rule.

But did it?

The answer may depend on what became of the helmet and jersey.

If they are still in Trump’s possession — perhaps on display at one of his homes or properties — that might be deemed improper, if the IRS ever looks.

“That would be a classic violation of the prohibition on a charity being operated for the private inurement (benefit) of the charity’s creator,” Brett G. Kappel, an expert on tax-exempt organizations at the Akerman law firm in Washington, wrote in an email. The Trump Foundation does not appear to have offices of its own. It is headquartered at Trump’s business offices in New York and has no full-time staff.

The best case for Trump, experts said, would be if he had given the helmet and jersey away to another charity, perhaps to be auctioned off at another fundraiser.

“If … the foundation paid for it, and they owned the helmet, and the helmet was given to someone as a charitable activity,” that would be enough, said John Edie, now retired, who was the longtime general counsel at the Council on Foundations.

Edie said Trump could not get off the hook by simply giving the memorabilia to a friend.

“Spending $12,000 for a helmet and then giving it to a golfing buddy is not” charity, Edie said.

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So what happened to the the helmet and jersey? Where are they today?

Trump’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment. In a Wall Street Journal video of Trump’s business office in New York last year, he showed off a table of sports helmets — but the Tebow helmet did not appear to be among them.

One possible reason: The Tebow gear has lost some of its cachet. In hindsight, Trump’s famous eye for a good deal seems to have deserted him on the night of the auction. As it turned out, he was buying Tebow gear close to its peak price.

That very night, Tebow’s Broncos were demolished by the New England Patriots in the NFL playoffs. The Broncos traded Tebow, and he played only one more full season.

The same kind of autographed helmet andjersey that Trump bought for $12,000 are now available for about $415, total, online.

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11 Responses to “Donald Trump used money donated for charity to buy himself a Tim Tebow-signed football helmet”

  1. Larry says:

    The WP has assigned 2 dozen reporters for weeks to find dirt on Trump & *this* is the best they can do? If anyone here still doesn’t believe the MSM is extremely biased they need only compare this non-scandal to the scandals of Hillary’s & Bill’s that the WP & the rest of the MSM *aren’t* covering. This is exhibit A of why only 6% of the US still considers the media trustworthy.

    • David says:

      Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is being investigated by the FBI for approving weapons deals to foreign governments while they gave millions of dollars of contributions to the Clinton Foundation, their non-profit charity.
      Clinton was interrogated by the FBI for 3.5 hours today regarding the e-mail scandal. A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the State Department to produce the e-mail records of Hillary Clinton’s scheduler during her tenure as secretary of state, expanding an investigation being pursued by conservative nonprofit Citizens United into the overlap between Clinton’s official travel and her meetings with foreign Clinton Foundation donors.

      Read more at:

      Buzzy Says : The FIX is in. There will be no charges.

    • Sage says:

      A couple of years ago I talked to a grown man, who I thought had reasonable intelligence, and he simply couldn’t perceive any bias in the media.

      None so blind as those who will not see.

      • Brandi says:

        I think there’s bias of all types. I also think it doesn’t matter much. The trust in the media is so bad more people say they believe what they read on the internet more than the mainstream media.

        It’s just bad in this country. A small college did an extensive survey and found something like 16% believed 9/11 was entirely an inside job. Another 30-some% (enough to make the total between it and the inside job believers a slight majority of the people)believed every detail including flight numbers was known in advance and orders were given not to interfere.

        Now we have almost as high numbers believing one huge conspiracy or another about Obama from secret Muslim spy to part of some plot to effectively enslave the masses to some sort of power cabal. (similar beliefs about Bush by many)

        Those who disagree are now enemies determined to destroy the people and the country. Even Western Union has gotten in on the act warning people to be careful sending money to family and friends with emergency needs…saying “verify the emergency yourself”. Don’t send money to family and friends without exercising caution first?

        Attitudes in this country have gone beyond too disgusting for words.

        So I wouldn’t worry about media bias. Nobody in this Country trusts or believes anyone about anything and assumes everyone is out to get them anyway. Even their own grandchildren. (WU’s family example)

        It would be laughable if it wasn’t so disheartening.

  2. Sage says:

    I’m not endorsing this book. In fact I don’t even plan to buy it. Klis and Woody, though, were moderately faithful Tebow supporters. Like Skip Bayless they said some reasonable and supportive things, but stopped far too short of ardent support.

    If anyone checks this out I’d be curious how the story is told. Is Tebow’s name thrown in there just to generate sales?

    • Larry says:

      You can search inside the book by clicking on the cover of the book. I did a search for Tebow & got many links to parts of the book. I don’t have time to look at them now, though. Happy 4th everyone.

    • ck says:

      Wouldn’t spend two cents on it b/c looks what is on the cover!

  3. ck says:

    They r going to have to do better than this, haha!

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