Donald Trump and Dana-Farber: A Love Story
It’s the story of the 2016 campaign that just keeps on giving: the Trump Foundation.
The revelations keep rolling in about the GOP nominee’s past dealings with the charity that bears his name, thanks in large part to the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold’s much-lauded reporting this year. To summarize, Trump has benefited from the perception that he’s a generous philanthropist for much of his career, despite giving very little out of his own pocket (He hasn’t donated to his own foundation since 2008).
And according to a new report from STAT News, that story involves one of Boston’s most venerated medical institutions: the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Dana-Farber, STAT reports, has been regularly hosting lavish fundraisers at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. At those events, the institute has heaped praise on Trump, giving him titles including “Grand Benefactor” and “Grand Honorary Chair.”
Trump himself, however, isn’t giving Dana-Farber a dime. In keeping with the theme of the Trump Foundation story thus far, he has been giving tens of thousands of dollars from his charity’s account—and relishing in the praise for doing so—but that charity is funded almost entirely with other people’s money.
If you run the numbers, Trump appears to have actually made money from being a “Grand Benefactor,” because Dana-Farber pays hefty fees to rent Trump’s extravagant venue every year, STAT reports.
As Ike Swetlitz mentions in his reporting, this is the kind of thing that happens all the time: Donors write big checks at fancy galas not just out of the kindness of their heart, but for status, access, and other benefits. Usually it’s just the ethically murky cost of doing business, and a lot of research gets funding this way. STAT reports that donations at last year’s Mar-a-Lago event totaled $1.6 million. But those donors don’t usually want to be the president. When they do, and they say and do the things Donald Trump says and does, it starts to feel, well, uncomfortable.
The reaction in the STAT story from a former Dana-Farber executive and current board member captures that feeling pretty aptly.
“Oh, Jesus,” David Nathan, the institute’s president from 1995-2000, tells STAT, when informed about the tango Dana-Farber has been doing with Trump for years now. “Poor Dana-Farber probably made a mistake getting involved with him…but how were they supposed to know what was going to happen?”
Nathan and other Dana-Farber executives, though, argued that the nonprofit relies on donations, and that regardless of the circumstances, when people or foundations donate, patients benefit.
Read the full story here.