According to a recent Wall Street Journal story, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon gave Donald Trump’s foundation $5 million between 2007 and 2009 out of about $20 million in previously unrecorded expenses.
The news of the claim comes shortly after McMahon stepped down as the company’s CEO following inquiries into hush payments he allegedly made in connection with sexual misbehaviour. Since then, WWE has declared that the independent investigation into the situation by its board is “largely complete.”
According to a recent securities filing, the majority of the $20 million in payments went to women who accused McMahon and another WWE official of sexual misconduct, but another $5 million was utilised for unrelated causes.
According to sources cited by the Journal, the $5 million represented donations to the now-disbanded Donald J. Trump Foundation. The contributions were made throughout the course of the two years Donald Trump appeared on WWE televised events.
A request for comment from the WWE was not immediately fulfilled.
When a lawsuit claimed Trump had used the charity’s finances improperly for his 2016 presidential campaign, to pay legal settlements, and to promote his business, Trump disbanded the foundation as part of a settlement with the New York state attorney general’s office in 2018.
This information was released less than a month after federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission opened investigations into the $14.6 million in payments made by McMahon to resolve sexual misconduct claims.
Because McMahon was a senior stakeholder and the $5 million in contribution payments benefited the business, they should have been recorded as business expenses, a WWE attorney told WSJ.
Trump received a $1 million fee for the first of the two visits, and the McMahons personally gave him a $4 million donation for his organisation. Trump received $100,000 for his second appearance, and McMahon and his wife Linda gave the organisation $1 million in exchange.
While the $5 million was reported as coming directly from WWE on the foundation tax returns, the business claimed in this month’s security filings that the funds originated from McMahon personally.
Despite leaving WWE, Vince McMahon remains the company’s largest stakeholder. About 40 years ago, he acquired the business from his father and transformed it into a major player on the world stage. Along with executive Nick Khan, he currently employs his daughter Stephanie McMahon as co-CEO.
Trump’s Cabinet included Linda McMahon as the head of the Small Business Administration. The WWE has inducted Trump into its Hall of Fame for hosting two Wrestlemania events in Atlantic City in the 1980s.