Former First Lady Melania Trump on Friday lashed out at the press for reporting on a Florida department of consumer services investigation into whether a charity organization she purportedly raised funds for was properly registered with authorities, accusing reporters of “[canceling] the hopes and dreams of children by trying to cancel [her]”.
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported Ms Trump’s “Fostering the Future” scholarship program — part of the “Be Best” initiative she started during her husband’s presidency — was to be the beneficiary of a charity fundraiser she attended in Naples, Florida.
But the Times also revealed that no charity with the names “Be Best” or “Fostering the Future” was registered with the Florida Consumer Services Division, which raised the possibility that solicitations for the charity event violated a Florida law which requires any “charitable organization or sponsor” to register with the state before engaging in any solicitation for donations.
A Florida consumer services spokesperson told the Times the agency was “currently investigating whether this event involves an entity operating in violation of Chapter 496, Florida Statutes”.
In response, Ms Trump called the reporting “inaccurate, misleading, and outright incorrect,” and said an Oklahoma school that had initially agreed to accept donations from her for the “Fostering the Future” scholarship program had backed out.”
She accused the school’s board of directors of making a “politically-motivated decision,” and said she was “disappointed but not surprised”.
“This is not the first time where politics got in the way of my mission to support children,” she said, adding that prospective partners had refused to participate in her “Be Best” initiative while she was in the White House.
Continuing, Ms Trump blamed the press for her difficulties.
“The media has created a narrative whereby I am trying to act in an illegal or unethical manner. That portrayal is simply untrue and adversely affects the children I hope to support,” she said.
The former First Lady added that anyone who, in her words, “attacks” her initiatives or “creates[s] the appearance of impropriety” are “quite literally dream killers” but vowed to continue supporting “our children” and to “do whatever it takes” while “remaining positive in the face of negativity”.
Ms Trump’s charity troubles are not the first difficulties a member of her family has had in establishing or running a nonprofit organization.
In 2018, then-New York State attorney general Barbara Underwood filed suit against Ms Trump’s husband, then-president Donald Trump, and her three eldest stepchildren — Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump — as well as her husband’s eponymous charity foundation , alleging the foundation had engaged in “a shocking pattern of illegality” in how it operated.
The former president eventually admitted to using the foundation to aid his business and political campaign and paid $2 million in restitution. He and his children of him were also ordered to undergo mandatory training on the responsibilities of charity board members.