US POLITICS

Hunt With The Trump Kids And Help Kill Democracy

This seems bad, maybe

US POLITICS
Looking good everyone — Getty Images
Dec 20, 2016 at 12:41 PM ET

For our purposes today, hunting is a sport. With that out of the way, would you like to go hunting with Donald Trump’s creepy kids and maybe, between killing some animals for fun, whisper a few ideas you’ve got rattling around in your wealthy head about any number of governmental policy plans? You can, as long as you’ve got a million dollars worth of disposable income. Seriously. We’re not joking.

A fundraiser, scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C. the day after the inauguration, called “Opening Day 2017,” is meant to honor the nation’s 45th president and “celebrate the great American tradition of outdoor sporting, shooting, fishing and conservation,” according to a copy of a brochure for the event obtained by TMZ. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are listed as honorary co-chairmen; Toby Keith will reportedly be belting out a few tunes; and the suggested attire is “camouflage and cufflinks,” though if you want to wear jeans, boots, and hats, it’s fine.

There are a bunch of neat baubles that donors will receive in exchange for their generosity. The lowest tier, $25,000, nets a couple of VIP tickets to the party, but if you purchase the million-dollar “Bald Eagle” package, you get some special photos with Trump, an electric guitar signed by Trump, some more guns, and best of all, you and three pals can go on a “multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion for 4 guests with Donald Trump, Jr. and/or Eric Trump, and team.”

At first glance, it seems too brazen to be real. Trump has no intention of creating anything resembling a firewall between the presidency and his businesses, let alone taking the necessary steps to dodge a constitutional crisis from the moment he takes the oath of office. But putting out what amounts to a sales package in exchange for access, especially considering Donald Jr. is reported to have played a serious role in selecting the Secretary of the Interior, seems beyond the pale.

Alas, it’s all too real. The Center for Public Integrity got a hold of a filing submitted on December 14 to the Texas Secretary of State registering the Opening Day Foundation as a non-profit. Both Trump sons are listed as directors along with two major Trump campaign fundraisers who, like Eric and Donald Jr., just happen to be avid hunters. CPI also spoke with Walter Kinzie, who runs an event company tasked by the Opening Day Foundation with making this thinly-veiled pay-for-play scheme happen. Though he said TMZ’s story isn’t wholly accurate, he didn’t specify exactly what those inaccuracies might be. It’s even possible that Eric and Donald Jr. won’t be showing up at all, because what’s a Trump-branded deal without a devil or two in the details. Kinzie also told the Washington Post that the published brochure represents an “earlier draft.”

Rough draft or not, there’s no mention of which “conservation charities” might receive this unexpected windfall, nor does anyone know how the foundation plans to determine what constitutes the “net proceeds” from this or any upcoming events. For individuals considering ponying up seven figures regardless of how vague the wording is, caveat emptor: the donations probably are not tax deductible. According to Texas law, an organization has to apply with the IRS in order to obtain 501(c)-3 status before donors can write off any contributions to a non-profit and there’s no way the Opening Day Foundation pulled that off in a week.

Yes, this is very bad, according to Larry Noble, the general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, a non-profit campaign reform organization.

“This is problematic on so many levels,” Noble told the CPI. “This is Donald Trump and the Trump family using a brand new organization to raise $1 million contributions for a vague goal of giving money to conservation charities, which seems a way of basically just selling influence and selling the ability to meet with the president.”

So the transformation of the republic into kleptocracy continues apace, and unless congressional Democrats evolve and grow a heretofore-unseen spine and/or Republicans reclaim their prior zest for investigations, it won’t stop.

Even then, like Newt Gingrich suggested, they might just rewrite the rules and issue preemptive pardons for the entire Trump clan.

UPDATE: The Presidential Transition Office has issued a statement denying that anything is set in stone.

The Opening Day event and details that have been reported are merely initial concepts that have not been approved or pursued by the Trump family,” Hope Hicks said. “Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are avid outdoorsmen and supporters of conservation efforts, which align with the goals of this event, however they are not involved in any capacity.”

The statement fails to address why Eric and Donald Trump Jr., if they are “not involved in any capacity,” are listed as directors of the nascent non-profit and named as co-chairmen on the brochure.