Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump skipped a GOP debate in January to host a “special event” for veterans. At the time, veterans organizations accused Trump of using them as pawns in his feud with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, whom the candidate claimed was “biased” against him.
After the event, held in Iowa, Trump claimed to have raised $6 million raised for veterans groups — $5 million from the event, plus another $1 million donation from Trump himself.
According to CNN, that number is inaccurate. Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told the news outlet Friday the the amount raised at the Des Moines rally was in fact less than $6 million.
Lewandowski said he did not "know the exact number" off the top of his head but said he would confirm the number within the next couple of days. He explained the false report by claiming that at the time of the rally, Trump believed he had raised $6 million, but more money was pledged than was actually donated.
More than two months after the January fundraiser, the beneficiaries of the funds had only been given “a fraction of the promised money,” the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.
After surveying 22 veterans groups originally listed by the Trump campaign as beneficiaries, the publication concluded that 19 of the groups had received only $2.4 million of the reported $6 million raised.
The Washington Post reported Friday that Lewandowski said the “special event” actually raised about $4.5 million. But Lewandowski told CNN that number was incorrect.
Since the start of his campaign Trump has pledged to be an advocate for veterans. At the January 28 fundraiser, the GOP’s presumptive nominee said, "Our vets are being mistreated … and it's not going to happen anymore."
Back in March, after CNN questioned the amount Trump raised for veterans, his campaign provided a list showing 27 veterans organizations had received a total of $2.9 million, but the campaign did not confirm when or how the rest of the funds would be dispersed.
The list showed that most of the money that had been donated at that time came from Trump's foundation or the foundations of two of his friends, businessman Carl Icahn and pharmaceutical billionaire Stewart J. Rahr.
Trump’s campaign did not identify any contributors Friday who pledged money without actually following through with donations.
Charities that received money from the January fundraiser include Fisher House Foundation, Green Beret Foundation and Disabled American Veterans. Other organizations, such as Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said they did not want to receive any of the contributions, according to CNN.
But the fundraiser was vague from the start. The event’s website never listed charities that would benefit, but instead urged donors to "Honor their valor" and "Donate now to help our veterans."