- The Washington Times
Thursday, January 28, 2016

GOP front-runner Donald Trump announced this week that he would boycott the Fox News Republican presidential debate Thursday and host a fundraiser for veterans instead, but several veterans groups are now saying they will not accept donations from Mr. Trump’s fundraiser.

Mr. Trump has said he will skip the debate after Fox refused to cut moderator Megyn Kelly, whom Mr. Trump has accused of unfairly attacking him.

Mr. Trump has not specified which veterans groups he will be fundraising for on Thursday night.

The conservative firebrand has supported the Wounded Warrior Project in the past, but the group is in hot water this week after a scathing report revealed that the charity spends much of its budget on lavish parties and team-building vacations for its staff instead of veterans.

Other veterans groups are now saying they don’t want any money from Mr. Trump’s fundraiser in Iowa.

Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) slammed the business magnate Wednesday for using veterans’ struggles for political gain.

“If offered, @IAVA will decline donations from Trump’s event. We need strong policies from candidates, not to be used for political stunts,” Mr. Rieckhoff tweeted.

He also took aim at Mr. Trump’s rival, Ted Cruz on Thursday after a group of Super PACs supporting the Texas senator’s bid for president said they would donate $1.5 million to veterans if Mr. Trump agrees to a one-on-one debate.

“Now it’s Cruz yanking vets into the nastiness of the presidential fights before Iowa. This is not what vets need,” Mr. Rieckhoff tweeted.

“If folks want to support vets, $$ doesn’t need to be funneled through a political campaign. Just donate directly to groups doing good work,” he added in another tweet.

Two other veterans groups also distanced themselves from Mr. Trump’s fundraiser.

VoteVets.org, a liberal veterans group, issued a statement titled “Don’t hide from Megyn Kelly behind us.”

“Let me put this in language Donald Trump understands,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran and Chairman of VoteVets.org in the statement. “You’re a loser. You’re a third-rate politician, who clearly doesn’t understand issues, and is so scared of Megyn Kelly exposing it, that you’re looking to use veterans to protect you from facing her questions.”

Meanwhile, Wounded Warrior Project said it has not been contacted by anyone from Mr. Trump’s campaign about the fundraiser.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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