Michael Biesecker, ?Jill Colvin ?and Steve Peoples
NEW YORK: More than a dozen big checks flowed out of New York last week, bound for veterans’ charities from Donald Trump. On Tuesday, he announced he had made good on his promise of last January to give the groups millions of dollars from a highly publicized fundraiser.
The announcement by the presumptive Republican presidential candidate came in the midst of a 40-minute rant against “dishonest” and “sleazy” reporters who have been pressing the issue.
The largest donation, a $1 million check dated May 24 and drawn from Donald J. Trump’s personal account, was addressed to a small Tuckahoe, N.Y., group that provides scholarships to the children of fallen Marines.
Trump had been interviewed that same day by the Washington Post, which for weeks had been raising questions about where the promised money was, urging him to disclose recipients of the millions raised during a splashy telethon-style fundraiser he held in Iowa in January in place of a Fox debate he was boycotting.
At a news conference Tuesday, Trump released a list of 41 groups he said had received $5.6 million.
“Most of the money went out quite a while ago,” Trump said. “Some of it went out more recently. But all of this has gone out.”
Throughout Tuesday’s confrontational event, Trump repeatedly slammed the media as “unbelievably dishonest” for its treatment of the issue and dismissed an ABC reporter as “a sleaze.” He said many times that he didn’t want credit for the fundraising but seemed peeved that he wasn’t thanked for it.
“Instead of being like, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. Trump,’ or ‘Trump did a good job,’ everyone’s saying: ‘Who got it? Who got it? Who got it?’ And you make me look very bad,” Trump complained, taking on reporters in the room. “I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job.”
The Associated Press spoke or left messages with each of the organizations Trump named. Of the 30 groups that responded by Tuesday, about half said they had received checks from Trump just last week.
Several said the checks were dated on or about May 24 — the date as Trump’s interview with the Post — and shipped out overnight.
Among them was the big check from Trump himself, written to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. Trump’s campaign had previously told the newspaper that his promised $1 million personal donation had already been distributed.
Though the foundation had received a $100,000 check from Trump’s charity in March, last week’s $1 million donation came as something of a surprise.
“It is obviously a wonderful donation,” said Sue Boulhosa, the group’s executive director and sole employee. She said the group had “an inkling” that more might come but the amount was a happy surprise.
Trump has a longstanding relationship with the group, which Boulhosa said typically raises a total of between $2 million and $3 million a year. The foundation had presented Trump with an award at its 2015 gala held at a New York hotel.
Appearing on CNN Tuesday, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton said she was glad Trump had given out the promised money.
“The problem here is the difference between what Donald Trump says and what Donald Trump does,” Clinton said. “He’s bragged for months about raising $6 million for vets and donating $1 million himself, but it took a reporter to shame him into actually making the contribution.”