When Donald Trump said he’d give money to veterans’ groups, what he really meant was that his gun-toting bronzed billionaire buddy Stewart Rahr would help pass out the checks.
Trump skipped a Republican debate in January in order to raise money for veterans. When all was said and done, he claimed that $6 million (including $1 million of his own money) had been collected and would be distributed to 22 organizations.
But according to news reports, by Thursday, over a month after the event, many of the organizations say they haven’t received their money and others say they received checks from an unlikely source.
That source is the Stewart J. Rahr Foundation, named after a billionaire friend of Trump’s who made boatloads of money after selling off his pharmaceutical company, Kinray. Rahr has been close friends with Trump, and has moved in the same social circles as former president Bill Clinton, for many years—there’s a picture of the three of them with Trump’s wife, Melania, on the homepage of Rahr’s foundation website.
It’s unclear what, if any, direct connection there is between the Rahr Foundation and the Trump Foundation but multiple veterans’ beneficiaries told The Daily Beast that they received checks from Rahr’s foundation, as opposed to Trump’s.
Neither Trump’s foundation nor Rahr’s foundation responded to questions from The Daily Beast.
At least three organizations reported having received donations from the Rahr Foundation. Operation Homefront, a vets’ group in Massachusetts, told The Daily Beast on Feb. 15 that it received $50,000 from Rahr’s group. 22Kill, headquartered in Texas, also informed The Daily Beast that it had received $200,000 from the foundation.
“Please note that this donation originated thanks to Mr. Donald Trump and our mutual admiration of our nation’s veterans,” reads a letter on Rahr Foundation letterhead, which accompanied at least some of the donations and which was described to The Daily Beast by at least two veterans’ groups.
Trump’s fundraising for veterans has been overtly political in nature. At a campaign rally in New Hampshire, right before the state’s primary, Trump hauled an enormous check on stage to show his supposed commitment to veterans. The ceremonial $100,000 check was written out to Liberty House, a small local charity that helps vets transition out of homelessness. The check read that it was from the “Donald J. Trump Foundation.”
But when Liberty House finally received the donation, it told The Daily Beast, it turned out instead to be from the Stewart J. Rahr Foundation.
The Rahr Foundation donations have also caused confusion among veterans’ charities, which say they don’t know if more money is on the way, or whether these are the same funds that Trump raised at his Iowa fundraiser for vets.
Task Force Dagger, a veterans’ charity that supports Special Operations service members, said it received a $50,000 contribution from the Rahr Foundation but has been unable to get any response from Trump’s camp as to whether they’ll be receiving funds from them as well.
“We’re grateful and thankful for what we’ve received… but the other takeaway is, I’m just curious as to if this were our donation, why is it from the Rahr Foundation, not the Trump Foundation?” said Keith David, the managing director of the group. “All I would like to know is, what’s going on?”
David says he has been unable to get a clear answer from the Trump campaign as to whether to expect more funds. He reached out to the Trump Foundation for guidance, who directed him to the Trump campaign, which hasn’t responded to his inquiries.
“We reached out for clarification to find out what’s going on, and no one has returned our calls. We’d like some clarification,” David said. “I just want someone to call me back.”
Trump and Rahr appear to share an affinity for extravagance, women, and rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.
Rahr is perhaps best known for a pornographic video he allegedly shot in the back of a limousine in 2013. In the video, the then-67-year-old and three women reportedly performed sex acts to the tune of Icona Pop’s “I Love It.” Afterward, he sent it out to his friends to celebrate his $250 million divorce from his wife of 43 years, according to Page Six.
His lawyer at the time, Ben Brafman, acknowledged the existence of the video. “However inappropriate or offensive the footage might appear to some, all the women are consenting adults who were engaged in friendly, voluntary and lawful behavior,” he told the New York Post.
Rahr, who calls himself “Stewie Rah Rah, the No. 1 King of All Fun,” is so close with Trump that he took up some space in Trump Tower, just two floors below his buddy’s office. Trump Tower is where he also lost his gun permit after allegedly threatening an elevator operator, according to the New York Post. Rahr also backed a website called shouldtrumprun.org, which, as it sounds, was encouraging the mogul to jump into the presidential race years ago.
He apparently has a penchant for attention, just like The Donald—he reportedly houses stacks of a copy of Forbes magazine, featuring himself on the cover, in his office. Rahr’s kinship with Trump extends so far that he once purchased a $60,000 painting of the mogul to keep for himself.
Assuming the checks to the vets from Rahr’s Foundation were the same money raised by Trump, the fate of the rest of the promised money is somewhat of a mystery. Meanwhile, Hope Hicks, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign, assured The Washington Post that the organizations would be getting all the money promised to them by Trump.