When you start out your column by treating the National Enquirer as a source of sage knowledge, you're in the hole already. Yet that's what Christopher Ruddy does in his June 28 column, in which the Trump buddy defends the Trump Foundation:
The recent New York State Attorney General’s legal action against the Donald J. Trump Foundation sparked my interest.
In the years I have known the president, one thing about him is true: he’s quite generous and charitable.
Iain Calder, the long-time editor of the National Enquirer told me the story that in the 1980s, when the paper did a story about Trump’s quiet charitable giving, the rising billionaire called him to complain.
For the Sinatra generation, publicity about your charity was not a good thing.
So we're likening Trump to Sinatra now? Whatever.
Ruddy then complained that "the phrase 'no good deed goes unpunished' seems to apply to our president," claimed that the investigation of the foundation by the New York attorney genera was political and launched a lengthy defense of it:
So what’s the deal with the Trump Foundation?
Without having conducted a forensic review, the allegations seems to be the legal version of Fake News.
Although the Donald J. Trump Foundation accepts funding from outside donors, as a private, non-operating foundation, it’s primarily a vehicle to distribute grants from Donald Trump and his family.
A glance at its IRS form 990 filings reflects this. The foundation pays no salaries and its total expenditures each year are at zero or nearly so. Its charitable distributions each year are at or near 100 percent of what it takes in.
This is highly unusual. We have all read stories of celebrities who “pad” their foundations with salaries for family and hangers-on. Foundation funds are often used as a personal slush fund.
This has never been the case with the Trump Foundation.
The State’s case is largely based on nonsense.
Well, actually, not so much. As a real news organization notes, Trump did not donate any money to the foundation between 2008 and 2015 and most of its money was not actually his, and he used foundation money to settle legal disputes with his businesses. And Ruddy's hometown newspaper has reported that "Nearly all of the $706,000 in donations made by the Donald J. Trump Foundation in Palm Beach County since 2008 went to charities that hosted lavish fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago," which certainly looks suspicious (though the charities deny any quid pro quo). Further, the alleged use of foundation assets to help Trump's presidential campaign violates federal tax law.
Ruddy takes the "so what?" approach, literally, to addressing these allegations:
They note that since 2009 the Trump Foundation received little money from Trump himself but instead donations from friends and business partners.
If Trump was offered money and suggested the other party donate to his Foundation instead — so money could be distributed directly to charities — why is this bad?
Another allegation is that the Foundation made donations to some charities that paid for facilities at Trump golf clubs, hotels, or Mar-a-Lago.
The State implies the donations were used as an inducement for business.
Typically such donations were $5,000 to $10,000. Hardly an amount that could be considered a “bribe” to get a charity to spend $250,000 or more at one of his properties.
And considering the sheer number of groups using Trump properties, those who received donations were just a tiny fraction. Hardly a pattern of misconduct here!
Ruddy concludes by concluding there's "no evidence" to support the allegations, just like with "Trump-Russian collusion."
That's the kind of toadying that will keep Ruddy in Trump's inner circle.