The executive director of New Hampshire veterans group Liberty House, Keith Howard, told The Gateway Pundit in an interview Monday that there was never any demand by representatives of leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that his group appear at a campaign rally in order to receive a donation from the Trump foundation.
Howard said he “has no dog in this fight” with regard to the primary being held Tuesday in New Hampshire and that he is keeping his ballot secret from pollsters and the media alike. Howard expressed disappointment with some media outlets for misrepresenting his comments about not wanting to receive the donation at a Trump rally.
The Gateway Pundit was told in an interview with New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro, a Trump supporter and veteran, that he was presented Monday with a check for $100,000 from the Trump Foundation to give to Liberty House after Tuesday’s primary elections.
Liberty House, based in Manchester, describes its mission as:
“For more than a decade, Liberty House in Manchester, NH has been providing a safe, supportive, substance-free housing community for American veterans transitioning out of homelessness.”
The donation became controversial after a hit piece in the Daily Beast headlined Exclusive: Trump Tried to Pay Vets To Be Props was spun as Liberty House rejecting Trump’s support when in reality the group wanted to accept the donation but did not want to be perceived as taking sides in the presidential election and did not want to risk its non-profit status per advice from the state attorney general’s office.
The issue was initially misreported by The Weekly Standard in an article Monday headlined: Report: Vets Charity Turns Down Trump Cash .
CBS News misreported on the controversy with an article headlined, Donald Trump campaign promised money to veterans group for campaign appearance.
The media is making it seem that Trump only wanted to give money to the group if it would appear on stage with him at a campaign rally. No claim like that has been made by Liberty House to the media. The Trump organization made arrangements to present the check to Liberty House in the days after the primary after the group rejected an invitation to get free national publicity for its work by receiving the check at a Trump rally in Londonderry on Monday. The group’s annual budget is a reported $300,000. Howard said the media smear is also affecting him as he has been receiving harassing phone calls and emails over the media-made controversy.
Trump has presented checks to veterans groups at two previous rallies, Puppy Jake and Partners for Patriots, without controversy. The funds are from an event Trump held last month that raised $6 million for veterans groups, including $1 million from Trump. Trump organized the fundraiser after he announced he was boycotting a debate over mistreatment by host Fox News.
Howard said he was aware that the other groups had received their donations at Trump rallies but that he did not want to follow suit for the aforementioned reasons.
Liberty House was on the list of 22 groups announced the night of the fundraiser to be recipients. No requirement to appear at Trump rallies was announced or implied as part of the donations.
In what appears to be confusion at being rejected for a rally appearance, Howard said that a Trump campaign staffer initially told him they would have to see if the donation would still take place without a rally appearance, but that there was never a demand or threat to withhold the donation. Howard also said that never came up in his talks with Baldasaro and that the Trump organization agreed to present the check in a non-campaign setting.
While Howard is coy about his choice in Tuesday’s primary, he encouraged those curious about his beliefs to seek out recent comments he made as a private citizen to USA Today:
“”My personal experiences with Kelly Ayotte are so positive, and she has been such a stand-up legislator and provider of constituent services that she absolutely has my vote for almost any office she would run for,” said 57-year-old Keith Howard, a registered Democrat, while eating dessert at the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester. “I can disagree with Kelly on almost every political issue while knowing that she is a stand-up woman. In a real sense, I will be voting for the person and not the positions.””
Howard said that only four other outlets had contacted him to determine the truth of the matter about the Trump Foundation donation. He expressed frustration that even after speaking with him his remarks were spun by the media.