Last year, Eric Trump posted a letter on his foundation’s website, explaining “effective December 31, 2016, I have decided to cease all direct fundraising efforts of my foundation.” But in fact, Eric Trump is apparently still attending fundraisers for his old foundation, which changed its name to Creativity but has continued to quietly hold events at Trump-owned properties.
Eric Trump wrote his initial letter after conflict-of-interest concerns got in the way of his sister Ivanka’s attempt to auction off a coffee date on behalf of the Eric Trump Foundation. The Trumps abandoned the plan for the auction, and Eric Trump announced that he was done fundraising. His father lamented the news on Twitter.
Creativity signs dotted Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York, and social media posts, tagged to the golf club, showed Eric Trump posing for photos with attendees. Additional posts pictured a program of the day, which described a similar schedule as previous Eric Trump Foundation tournaments. The beneficiary, according to photos in the posts, was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where the Eric Trump Foundation had directed more than $11 million. Some of the same sponsors continued to support this year’s event.
The consistency was striking, especially since prior years’ events sparked an ongoing investigation into the Eric Trump Foundation by the office of the New York state attorney general. Eric Trump falsely claimed that his charity got to use his family’s properties “100% free of charge,” but a June story in Forbes showed how the nonprofit Eric Trump Foundation had, in fact, paid the for-profit Trump Organization. Shortly after the story came out, the state attorney general launched the investigation.
It remains unclear who paid for Monday’s event. Representatives of St. Jude, Creativity and the Eric Trump Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The non-responses were consistent with an overriding sense of secrecy that surrounded this year’s golf outing. A Forbes reporter who drove up to the course was stopped by a security guard, who had a photo of the reporter waiting for him. He had been instructed to deny the reporter access to the club. Attendees refused to say what the purpose of the event was. But when asked whether it was an event for Creativity, a different security guard said: “It’s basically that event.” Posts from more than a half dozen different social media users confirmed that it was a Creativity event.
Monday wasn’t the first time that Eric Trump showed up in social media posts at Creativity outings since promising to stop fundraising. A reporter for the Washington Post tweeted that the Eric Trump Foundation told him an event at Mar-a-Lago had been canceled. Photos later surfaced on social media that apparently showed the president’s son posing for a photo at the event.
In May, Creativity took part in another event at the Trump golf club outside of Washington D.C. Social media posts connected to the event showed Eric Trump smiling alongside other attendees.
The increased costs for the tournament coincided with changes to the Foundation’s board in 2010, when it changed from being made up of mostly Eric’s personal friends to those closely connected with the financial interests of the Trump Organization, according to Forbes.
The tax filings also show that the Eric Trump Foundation made a 2014 payment of $87,665 to another Trump property, the Trump National Golf Club in Washington, DC for fundraising events.
“During the past decade, the Eric Trump Foundation has raised over $16.3 million for St. Jude Children’s Research hospital while maintaining an expense ratio of just 12.3 percent,” the statement reads. “The Eric Trump Foundation was also responsible for building a $20 million dollar ICU which treats the sickest children anywhere in the world suffering from the most catastrophic terminal illnesses.”