Big Dog Ranch Rescue, a Florida-based dog rescue charity chaired by Lara Trump, is facing increased scrutiny after reportedly funneling nearly $2 million to Trump-owned properties in recent years.
The Huffington Post reports: “Internal Revenue Service filings show that the group has spent as much as $1,883,160 on fundraising costs at Mar-a-Lago and Trump’s golf course 18 miles north in Jupiter starting in 2014. Lara Trump, the wife of Eric Trump, started being listed as a chairwoman for charity events in 2018, and the group’s president, Lauren Simmons, visited the White House in 2019 for the signing of a bill addressing animal cruelty.”
The Post adds that the Simmons defended her group’s use of Trump properties in a statement on Friday, citing their “quality of service, beauty of the venue and excellent rate provided us as a nonprofit.”
Unsurprisingly, Simmons’ Facebook profile is littered with right-wing memes, including posts flagged by independent fact-checkers as false. On January 3, just days before the Trump-fueled violent riot at the U.S. Capitol, Simmons posted an image that read “Either we TAKE power back, or we will never be free again. No more asking nicely. Our founding fathers warned us. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
At a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser for the charity yesterday, former president Donald Trump made an impromptu appearance and hinted that Lara might run for U.S. Senate in North Carolina to replace retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr. Burr was one of only seven Senate Republicans that voted to convict Trump in the second impeachment following January’s Capitol riot.