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Trail Mix: A Texas toss-up and foundation foibles

click to enlarge Is Texas really in play in this year's presidential election?
  • Is Texas really in play in this year's presidential election?

A TEXAS-SIZE UPSET?

In case you need any more proof of how strange and unpredictable this election cycle is, there are now reports that presidential candidates HILLARY CLINTON and DONALD TRUMP are running neck and neck in one of the country's largest and most reliably Republican states.

Last week, a poll of all 50 states conducted jointly by the Washington Post and SurveyMonkey, an online survey company, found that Democrat Clinton was leading Republican Trump 46 percent to 45 percent in Texas. When third-party candidates GARY JOHNSON (Libertarian) and JILL STEIN (Green) were included, Clinton and Trump both polled at 40 percent. Also last week, the Dallas Morning News endorsed Clinton, breaking its 76-year streak of endorsing Republicans for president.

"Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest," the paper wrote in its endorsement, which praised Clinton's experience.

For years, the state's demographics have been steadily shifting in favor of Democrats, who dream of putting the state's 38 electoral votes into play. But few expected it to happen in this cycle. The Texas Tribune reports that Democrats, who last carried the state in 1976 with Jimmy Carter, are setting up campaign offices in the Lone Star State. However, an article in the Austin American-Statesman, quoting observers of Texas politics, suggested that a Clinton upset was unlikely, pointing out that the two most recent polls showed Trump ahead. (JAKE THOMAS)

CRACKS IN THE FOUNDATION

If we're going by the definition of charitable organizations, legally or logically speaking, the DONALD J. TRUMP FOUNDATION doesn't quite hit the mark. In fact, it misses it completely.

A sprawling Washington Post investigation that spans 17 years of tax filings and upward of 200 interviews with entities listed as donors and recipients in tax documents reveals that the foundation has mostly donated other people's money since 2008, has made illegal political gifts and hidden donations from the IRS.

Specifically, the Post found five "phantom donations," totalling $51,000, where money is listed as going out, but none was received by the beneficiary listed on the tax document. One of those instances involved a political gift of $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was at the time considering an investigation into Trump University. That investigation never happened.

Trump was dinged with a minor fine for the illegal donation, but that's not all. The foundation errantly wrote the $25,000 check to a charity with a name similar to the pro-Bondi group. Then, come time to report the $25k, the foundation mistakenly told the IRS the money went to a third, completely different charity in Kansas. (MITCH RYALS)

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