The Smoking Gun: Gifts of the Magnate

Now that Donald Trump is purportedly considering a White House bid, voters might wonder about the developer’s contributions to society – besides, of course, his garish skyscrapers and Jersey Shore clip joints.

Alas, when it comes to philanthropy, the billionaire looks like a penny-pincher. From 1994 to 1998, the Donald J. Trump Foundation donated a total of just $475,624 to charitable organizations. The foundation’s 1998 tax return, filed with the IRS last month, lists $212,403 in donations, up from a 1997 total of $78,183. Trump’s 1998 gifts included $35,000 to the Municipal Arts Society, $1,000 to the Metropolitan Golf Association, and $200 to the Queens Child Guidance Center.

Compared with generous business barons like Bill Gates, David Geffen, Ted Turner, and Barry Diller, Trump’s charitable contributions seem downright puny. Locally, his philanthropy is dwarfed by that of real-estate heavies like Leona Helmsley and Zachary and Larry Fisher, whose foundations each donated about $3 million in the most recent year for which tax returns are available. Former Goldman Sachs boss Jon Corzine – who isn’t a billionaire – now running for Senate in New Jersey, donated $2.6 million via his foundation in 1998.

Trump is even consistently outperformed by a charitable foundation run by wiseguys Thomas and Joseph Gambino, sons of Mafia legend Carlo Gambino. The Gambino Medical and Science Foundation gives an average of $250,000 annually to Long Island Jewish Medical Center, where a children’s bone-marrow-transplant unit has been named for the family.

At Trump’s current philanthropic pace, it is unlikely that anyone – besides the Donald himself – will soon be rushing to slap the Trump name on any New York buildings.

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The Smoking Gun: Gifts of the Magnate