Eric Trump, son of President-elect Donald Trump, will be shutting down his eponymous charitable foundation over concerns of conflict of interest.
The Eric Trump Foundation has been under scrutiny since it auctioned off a coffee meeting with Ivanka Trump, who may have a role in the Trump Administration.
“My wonderful son, Eric, will no longer be allowed to raise money for children with cancer because of a possible conflict of interest with... my presidency,” Trump tweeted on Dec. 23, notes The Hill. “Isn't this a ridiculous shame? He loves these kids, has raised millions of dollars for them, and now must stop. Wrong answer!”
The foundation has raised some $15 million since its founding in 2007 to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
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A bidder offered $72,888 through the foundation for the 45-minute private meeting with Ivanka Trump, according to The New York Times.
"This is just wrong,” Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, said. “The president’s family should not be out raising money for whatever cause, in exchange for a potential influence buyer who wants to get his views to the president.”
“You never, ever want to have government officials using their public office for the private gain, even for a worthy charity,” Norm Eisen, who was a former White House ethics lawyer for President Barack Obama, added. “That was how we did it.”
“We’ve done this every year,” Eric Trump told the Times in a phone interview, referring to his organization. “We utilized Charitybuzz to raise significant funds. Every single year we’ve auctioned off a lunch with one of ourselves. It’s nothing more than an effort to raise a lot of money in an effort to help sick children.”
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“Those people [at St. Jude] are going to suffer now because folks are pointing out what they think to be improprieties,” Kellyanne Conway, a senior advisor to Donald Trump, said according to The Hill. “I didn’t say I necessarily agree, I just think they will always do the right thing.”