Watch CBS News

Donald Trump book royalties to charity? A mixed bag

Many questions have been raised about the charitable contributions of the Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump.

His foundation, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, has given away $13.6 million in the last 28 years according to tax returns reviewed by CBS News. However, only $4.9 million of it has been money from Trump's own pocket. Trump has not personally donated to his foundation since 2008.

Trump's loaded words fuel backlash 06:18

At least seven times over the last 27 years, Trump has said he gave away the proceeds from his best-selling books to charity, starting with the 1987 best-seller, "The Art of the Deal."

The Trump campaign did not respond to repeated requests for information about charitable donations from the royalties of Trump's books.

"The Art of the Deal" -- 1987

In 1989, Trump told CBS News reporter Erin Moriarty on camera, "That's why I write books ... because the money always goes to charity and that's my pleasure."

"The Art of the Deal" sold 1.1 million copies, according to a source familiar with the book's sales.

CBS News found several articles from the late 1980s that quoted Trump as saying that he planned to donate the money from his books to causes, "including United Cerebral Palsy, multiple sclerosis, AIDS research, the homeless, etc.," which Trump wrote in a February 28, 1988 New York Times letter to the editor.

Later that year, also in the New York Times, he added Vietnam veterans as another cause and told a reporter, "I originally figured [the charities would] get a couple of hundred thousand, but because of the success of The Art of the Deal they'll get $4 or $5 million."

But "The Art of the Deal" did not yield that much money for Trump.

Tony Schwartz, who was the ghostwriter for "The Art of the Deal," split the royalties with Trump 50/50 and tells CBS News he made $1.6 million in total.

Schwartz says 90 percent of the royalties came in the first few years after the book was published in November 1987.

Between 1988 and 1990, Trump gave $1,210,152 to his foundation which in turn distributed the money to over a hundred charities in New York. It's unknown if that $1.2 million was money from the book proceeds, but it is close to the same amount.

Despite saying he would give book royalties to specific causes, the donations in 1989 went to more than 100 organizations, including $264,631 to the Central Park Conservancy and $100,000 to the Police Athletic League. The Central Park Conservancy's annual report from 1989 lists a donation of more than $250,000 from the Trump Organization, but none from the Trump Foundation.

United Cerebral Palsy told CBS News that Donald Trump is a "generous supporter" and over the years Trump has given the organization between $250,000 and $500,000. They say the last donation was in 2004.

"Why We Want You To Be Rich" -- 2006

Trump claims to have had 15 bestsellers and throughout the 2000's he continued to tout his charitable donations from his book royalties.

In 2006, Trump partnered with the bestselling author Robert Kiyosaki to write the book "Why We Want You To Be Rich." In a 2006 joint interview with Trump and Kiyosaki on Larry King's CNN show, Kiyosaki told King they were self-publishing the book, "and the reason for that is we're going to donate $500,000 to $1 million for financial literacy," Kiyosaki said sitting next to Trump, "So it goes to his charities and my charities. It is for financial education."

CBS News contacted Kiyosaki about the donation and received this statement from his spokesperson, who is with Rich Publishing: "Any donations related to the book, "Why We Want You To Be Rich," originally published by Rich Publishing, would have been handled by Rich Publishing and not the Trump Organization. In addition, Rich Publishing no longer publishes the book."

When CBS News asked where the money for financial literacy went, Kiyosaki's spokesperson did not answer and instead said the management team from that time are "no longer associated with [the business], and have not been for some time now."

"Crippled America" -- 2015

On October 7, 2015, Trump promised supporters at a rally in Waterloo, Iowa that he would donate the money from his most recent book, "Crippled America." He told the crowd, "Simon and Schuster came to me, wanted to make a book ... they give me a lot of money, I'm going to give it to charity."

Again, at a press conference at Trump Tower in November 2015, Trump said that he was donating the profits of "Crippled America": "I'm giving them away. The profits of my book - I'm giving them away to a lot of different people, including the vets."

Trump's latest financial disclosure form says he earned between $1 million and $5 million in royalties last year from the book "Crippled America" alone.

Trump gave $1 million to veterans' causes earlier this year after pressure from journalists to fulfill a pledge to donate money from a January event he hosted in Iowa.

Trump has refused to release his personal tax returns, which would list any charitable donations the billionaire made outside of his foundation. Calls to 11 national veterans' organizations did not turn up any donations that would match the timeframe for the book "Crippled America." The USO of Metropolitan New York told CBS News that Trump had been a donor in the past but added, "The USO does not disclose the names of donors or the amount of their donations without the consent of such donors."

Trump's campaign has said that the candidate has given over $100 million dollars to charities over the past five years.

The Washington Post reviewed the entire list of donations and reported they could not find any donation on the list that was a personal gift of Trump's money. Instead, the Post reported, the list consisted of donations of real estate for "land conservation agreements," cash grants from his foundation and free rounds of golf.

Reporting by Laura Strickler, Bo Erickson, Ellee Watson, Maya Kaufman

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.