The first cash giveaway occurred last month in Cleveland where raffle winners were given envelopes stuffed with from $300 to $500 each. More handouts had been set for Virginia this month but have been postponed.
The November general election is expected to draw record numbers of black voters, especially black women, who are are likely to be determinant in a number of “swing” or key states. Thus, courting black voters is a no-brainier for any candidate seeking to win the presidency.
Even before Trump surrogates started handing out money, the Trump campaign itself had already spent an inordinate amount of time and money trying to influence black voters. This is in line with Trump’s entreaties at an HBCU last year where he attempted to burnish his efforts to exonerate some unjustly imprisoned black inmates.
The cash giveaways are organized and run by a charity called the Urban Revitalization Coalition, Politico reports. Its donors, however, are anonymous and their “contributions” are tax-deductible.
This whole process, however, and this organization are suspect in that its tax-exempt status may not make muster in terms of the legal definition of a “charity” or the campaign finance requirements of federal law.
“Charities are required to spend their money on charitable and educational activities,” Marcus Owens, former director of the Exempt Organizations Division at the Internal Revenue Service, told Politico. “It’s not immediately clear to me how simply giving money away to people at an event is a charitable act,” Owens said.
The coalition has responded to this critique by noting that it requires anyone who receives more than $600 from them to fill out a W-9 IRS form. (Perhaps that is why — so far — the cap on “gifts” to black people is $500?).
Darrell Scott, a “conservative” black Cleveland preacher and early supporter of Trump, is also the founder (along with imprisoned Trump attorney Michael Cohen) and CEO of coalition. Scott demurred, however, when asked to respond to questions about the legal and charitable status and the financials of his organization and its donors.
“I’d rather not,” he told Politico by telephone. “They [the donors] prefer to remain anonymous.”
Although Scott has been on Team Trump from the beginning, (since first meeting Trump in 2011), his Urban Revitalization Coalition was only registered in Delaware well after Trump’s election in 2016.
Attempting to buy black votes is nothing new — for Democrats. Vote buying, bribery, and voter fraud have a long and storied history among Democrats in most major cities; but particularly in Chicago, my home town.
Back in 1982, when Harold Washington was running to become Chicago’s first black mayor, his Primary Election opponents (Democrats all) openly offered Thanksgiving turkeys and cash to black Chicagoans in exchange for their vote. When Washington found out about this, his response has become classic, and an object lesson in how black people should respond to political pressure and political pimps of any color: “Take the turkey. Take the cash,” he advised. “Then vote for me!”
More recently, in Chicago’s last mayoral election, a wealthy black candidate handed out one hundred dollar bills to anybody who showed up at his campaign events. Willie Wilson was criticized and excoriated in the Chicago media for this practice. But, it turns out that there is nothing illegal about giving people money and asking them to vote for you!
For Republicans, though, this form of cash-on-the-barrel to black people is a new thing under the sun. Before Trump came along, Republicans, basically, generally, paid only muted lip service to black issues or simply ignored black voters altogether.
Trump’s ham-handed, back-handed, and outright and upfront racist comments and actions relative to black people have turned the vast, vast majority of black people away from him and his party to the point that those few black people who dare to support Trump, do so mostly undercover.
Darrell Scott, obviously, is a prominent exception to the undercover rule. And, as always, it is the exception that proves the rule. The exception is the reason for the rule in the first place. Scott and a minuscule number of other black preachers and “black conservatives” willingly endure public taunts of “Uncle Tom” and withering criticism as “sell-outs” for their support of this man Trump.
I will deploy neither of those epithets to describe the good reverend Darrell Scott or black conservatives generally. Suffice it to say, though, that one must wonder that if he is giving away $500 envelopes to black people on behalf of Donald Trump, what must his own personal envelope, or his own personal satchel, his own personal brief case…or his own personal suitcase look like?