Trump officials — as well as Beach and Hicks — initially stayed silent, ignoring repeated requests for comment.
But on Tuesday, the Trump transition team issued a statement. It read: “The Opening Day event and details that have been reported are merely initial concepts that have not been approved or pursued by the Trump family. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are avid outdoorsmen and supporters of conservation efforts, which align with the goals of this event, however they are not involved in any capacity.”
The nonprofit filings, Trump officials said, would be amended and the brothers’ names deleted. Anonymous transition officials told the Washington Post that the names of Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump had been included on the documents “without their permission.”
Mark Brinkerhoff, a spokesman for the Opening Day 2017 event, said Tuesday night in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity that Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are invited to the event, but their participation isn’t confirmed.
The inauguration weekend event would be the first for the Opening Day Foundation, which Brinkerhoff said is currently seeking official recognition from the Internal Revenue Service to operate as a 501(c)(3) charity. This status would allow donors to deduct contributions on their taxes.
Such nonprofits also aren’t required by law to disclose their donors, meaning pro-Trump contributors to the Opening Day Foundation could ostensibly do so anonymously. Political committees such as candidates’ campaigns and super PACs, in contrast, must reveal their donors in periodic reports to the Federal Election Commission.
Brinkerhoff said the goal is for the Opening Day Foundation is to distribute proceeds to conservation charities — similar to what the United Way does for other charitable organizations.
The new documents outlining sponsorship opportunities said that until the IRS grants the Opening Day Foundation tax-exempt status, the Opening Day Foundation will operate as a “project of the Boone and Crockett Club Foundation Inc.,” a wildlife conservation group based in Montana.
A spokesman for the Boone and Crockett Club Foundation, however, told the Washington Post that the group has not decided whether to participate in the Opening Day 2017 fundraiser.
Asked Tuesday night about the Trump brothers’ involvement with the creation of the foundation, Brinkerhoff said he “didn’t know” whether they had agreed to have their names on the original nonprofit documents.
Ultimately, he said, “The foundation creators determined among themselves that the founders of the foundation will not include Eric or Donald Jr.”
In interviews with the Dallas Morning News and Washington Post this week, Hicks Jr. and Beach disagreed over who first had the idea to create the Opening Day Foundation.
Hicks attributed the idea to Donald Trump Jr. and Beach.