Trump campaign’s adviser for veterans issues can’t account for $6 million raised for veterans charities by the billionaire—and from the sounds of it, couldn’t care less.
“I could ask, but it’s not high on my priority list,” Al Baldasaro, a New Hampshire state representative, told The Daily Beast.
Back in January Trump skipped an Iowa presidential debate due to a tiff with Fox News, instead holding a fundraiser for veterans charities. According to the campaign, this event raised some $6 million, to be distributed to 22 listed veterans charities.
Baldasaro played a major role for the Trump campaign in New Hampshire and has been outspoken in the press and on the campaign trail ever since. In fact, he helped deliver money to one veterans charity, accepting an oversized novelty check from Trump on stage at a campaign event before the New Hampshire primary. Soon after, he delivered a real $100,000 check to local veterans charity Liberty House. But he says he doesn’t know where the rest of the money went, and in essence, that it isn’t his problem.
Questions have lingered about whether that money has actually been dispense to those charities—since the fundraiser, numerous media organizations have investigated whether the charities have received the $6 million. The investigations span the ideological spectrum: the progressive MSNBC and the conservative Weekly Standard have been unable to find all the funds; as have The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and The Daily Beast.
The money simply hasn’t been found.
What these investigations have yielded is a solid conclusion that, thus far, Donald Trump and his nonprofit have dispensed, at maximum, about half of the $6 million to the listed beneficiaries. Nearly three months—85 days—have passed since the fundraiser.
“I don’t track that,” Baldasaro told The Daily Beast. “I’m not concerned about it, because I know [Trump is] an honorable, honest guy… you guys just want to say, ‘gotcha.’”
Baldasaro tried to minimize his responsibility in the issue, saying that “it’s not that I’m the lead veterans adviser” or a paid staffer. But then he later acknowledged that he’s “the only one that talks about veterans for Trump.”
“It’s not high on my priority list,” he said, when pressed on why he didn’t account for the $6 million in order to put the issue to rest. “I agree with you on looking into it. I just wish I had a little more time… My veterans constituents have never asked us that question.”
His advocacy on homeless veterans, New Hampshire not having a VA hospital, medical cards, and medical marijuana was more important, he said.
Baldasaro said he may ask the Trump campaign in the next week where the money has gone.
Charity watchdog groups have urged Trump and his organizations to swiftly account for the funds they promised to veterans groups.
“Groups that hold fundraisers for charities should distribute the funds to those charities as rapidly as possible. By not doing so it delays aid or assistance to people in need of help and increases the risk that these funds get diverted to something other than their intended use,” said Daniel Borochoff, the president of CharityWatch. “A highly publicized event such as Trump’s fundraiser for veterans charities ought to disclose within a few months what it has done with the funds that it has raised.”
The charities themselves, meanwhile, remain confused about when and how much of the promised funds they will receive. Vets charity Task Force Dagger told The Daily Beast last month that they had received a $50,000 contribution from the Stewart J. Rahr Foundation, apparently on behalf of Trump, but has been unable to get any response from Trump’s own foundation as to whether they’ll be receiving funds from them as well.
“The charities should at least have been told when they can expect to receive the money!” said Sandra Miniutti, a vice president at Charity Navigator, a watchdog group. “Given the publicity surrounding the event, I believe timely delivery of the donations is in order.”
The Trump campaign has declined, on multiple occasions, to comment on where the millions raised for veterans have gone. They did not comment when The Daily Beast asked yet again Thursday.