A veterans advocacy group that received $200,000 from presidential candidate Donald Trump’s January fundraiser said the move was a huge boost for their organization, even if the money brought with it a rash n equal amount of confusion and criticism.
Cliff Sosamon, an official with the Texas-based group 22Kill, wrote in in a commentary published Thursday by editorial in The Hill Thursday that its their members’ appearance with the Republican front-runner at his controversial January veterans fundraiser crashed the group’s website and has resulted in a 500 percent increase in donations so far this year.
But the publicity has not all been positive, Sosamon says.
"Almost immediately, we began to receive emails and social media replies both supporting the mission and also asking why we would support Trump, or why we would consider accepting funds from his rally," he wrote. "We lost some of our backers because certain individuals do not support Trump."
Sosamon says the decision to take the donation was not based on Trump's presidential campaign but on the reality that "running a nonprofit organization and providing services for our nation's veterans takes money." The group insists it is not endorsing Trump.
"From an organizational standpoint, we are happy to accept funds from any individual or group willing to support our mission and benefit veterans," he wrote. "We do not care if the funds come from the left or the right, from Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. All their money is the same, and we are able to put those funds to use …"
At the time of the rally, several prominent veterans groups said they would refuse any contribution from Trump because of the perception that the money would be tied to support for the candidate.
Trump's campaign still has not fully accounted for the $6 million officials claim was raised at the Iowa event, organized as a protest to Fox News' choice of moderators for a debate scheduled the same evening.
Only a few of the 22 organizations originally listed as beneficiaries of the event have publicly reported receiving donations, and several others have expressed concerns that money being offered has been tied to campaign appearances and events.
Trump campaign officials have offered no response to repeated inquiries by Military Times about future distribution of the money.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.