Is this the new “walking around money”?
Politico reported (01/29/2020) about a Trump-connected group called Urban Revitalization Coalition (URC) that sponsored an “economic empowerment” event in Cleveland in December where some attendees were selected to receive cash gifts for their presence at the event.
URC is registered as a 501(c)3 charitable organization but a leading expert on nonprofit law said the arrangement raises questions about the group’s tax-exempt status, because it does not appear to be vetting the recipients of its money for legitimate charitable need. The organization’s CEO, Darrell Scott, said that most gifts were between $300 and $500, and that the group mandates that anyone who receives over $600 fills out a W-9 form in order to ensure compliance with tax law. No indication was offered as to the selection process.
URC operates in conjunction with another Trump support group called Black Voices for Trump. Last month, The New York Times reported (01/30/2020) that pamphlets were distributed on Election Day in Richmond titled “Make Black America Great Again” with content promoting defense of black American families with the Second Amendment and criticizing modern-day Jim Crow Democrats. The pamphlet asserted that Democrats were keeping black Americans “under heel,” according to the Times. The documents contained no information regarding the sponsor or payment for the material.
For Martin Luther King, Jr., Day on January 20, 2020, fliers were distributed and posted to social media announcing an ”invitation only event” at Virginia Union University (VUU) in Richmond honoring President Trump, Jared Kushner, the University’s president, and White House adviser Jonathan Holifield. The event was billed as an “economic development” conference with $30,000 cash giveaways and sponsored by URC. No connection to Virginia groups were identified.
The university withdrew approval for the event, saying that it had not been involved in its planning and had not been informed as to who would be participating. VUU further stated that its campus was not the appropriate place to conduct such an event and reiterated its institutional mission of “empowering African Americans and other ethnic minorities through all of its programs, events, and partnerships.”
It would appear that VUU may have been the victim of a bait and switch maneuver. Duplicity, however, is not a novel feature to this President’s campaign or his character. Now, however, it is attaching to surrogates. The deceit is not limited to tactics but applies also to the substance and content of the campaign’s messages and statements. Against the background of thousands of uttered falsehoods, the campaign seeks to appeal to African American voters just as its candidate fostered discrimination as a real estate owner in New York City.
With money as an attraction, the campaign lures African American voters to events to participate in a dialogue about “economic empowerment,” an academic topic direct from Trump University.
Trump’s claim that he is the “least racist person” we know relies upon the acceptance of “least” as a metric quality (six times according to the Washington Post, Jan. 17, 2018). This is the same candidate who, with raised hands, implored black voters with “What have you got to lose?” as an appeal. With money as an attraction, the campaign seeks to lure African American voters to events to participate in a dialogue about “economic empowerment,” an academic topic direct from Trump University. It is evident that the Commonwealth is a target of the 2020 campaign of the “least racist person” running for the GOP Presidential nomination.
At the State of the Union address, the President pursued his giveaways by anointing Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, bestowed by the First Lady, and announced a scholarship to a black youngster. On Super Bowl Sunday, the campaign paid out millions of dollars for a TV ad promoting a message of gratitude from an African American woman the President pardoned from a life sentence for drug offenses (because her story was championed by Kim Kardashian; Trump ignores the work of the Justice Department’s pardon attorney). Unfortunately, duplicity as a campaign device and tool is prized and has not turned off base supporters. We can expect the road to Election Day 2020 will be littered with many more instances.