KEY POINTS

  • A group founded by Trump allies is holding charity events in black communities
  • Attendees can win cash prizes ranging from $300 to $500 on average
  • During the event, organizers talk up Trump's economic policies
  • The group is a registered charity, though its donations may be legally questionable

In an effort to bolster black voters’ currently meager support for President Donald Trump, allies of his are promoting his re-election by holding questionable charity events in minority neighborhoods – by apparently handing out cash sums.

A report from Politico shows how a group named Urban Revitalization Coalition has been holding events with the official goal being to boost black communities’ economies. Most recently, the group held its first event in Cleveland in December where those who attended given raffle tickets which could be used to win hundreds of dollars in cash prizes. During the event, organizers talked glowingly to black voters about Trump’s policies and how they have benefited black workers by lowering unemployment.

Most prizes are between $300 and $500 dollars, and those who win more than $600 are asked to file tax paperwork, the group said.

While the events are being cast as charity events, this may be questionable, according to a former IRS official. Marcus Ownes, who once ran the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Division, told Politico that, “It's not immediately clear to me how simply giving money away to people at an event is a charitable act.”

Those behind the events, the Urban Revitalization Coalition, are registered as a charitable group under 501(c)3, however Owens said it is not clear if or how those receiving the cash prizes qualify as having charitable need.

When asked how the funds are provided, the group’s CEO, Darrell Scott, told Politico that the donors “prefer to remain anonymous.” Their contributions, however, are considered tax-deductible.

Scott is an outspoken black Trump supporter, the pair having become friends before the 2016 campaign. During the campaign, he founded the National Diversity Coalition for Trump alongside Michael Cohen, its aim being to drum up minority votes.

The Urban Revitalization Coalition was founded in 2017, first working in coordination with Republicans and the Trump administration to promote the White House’s economic policies in black communities. In 2018, the group’s leadership met with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

The group had planned a similar event in Virginia this month, but it has since been postponed.

Trump appeals to black voters Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Dimondale, Michigan, Aug. 19, 2016. Photo: BILL PUGLIANO/GETTY IMAGES