FACT CHECK: Is Donald Trump The Only President Since George Washington To Donate His Salary?
President Donald Trump claimed Oct. 21 that he’s the only president since George Washington to donate his presidential salary.
Former Presidents Herbert Hoover and John F. Kennedy gave away their presidential salaries. Washington claimed to not want or need a salary, but eventually accepted one.
Trump, a real estate mogul with an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion, is once again donating his quarterly presidential salary to a government agency, according to ABC News. (RELATED: Have Congressional Salaries Gone Up 231% In The Past 30 Years?)
His $100,000 third-quarter paycheck will go to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health with an earmark to “continue the ongoing fight against the opioid crisis,” the White House stated Nov. 26, according to The Associated Press. Under U.S. federal code, the president receives a $400,000 annual salary plus a $50,000 expense account.
Trump promised early in his 2016 campaign that he would refuse the fixed presidential salary afforded to him in the Constitution. He appears to have stuck by that promise so far, donating each of his quarterly paychecks to various government agencies, including the Department of Education, Small Business Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In a press scrum before an Oct. 21 cabinet meeting, Trump said he’s the only commander-in-chief other than Washington to forgo his presidential salary. It came after a reporter asked Trump about his bid to host the upcoming G-7 summit at his Doral, Florida, golf resort.
“They say that no other president has done it. I’m surprised, to be honest with you,” said Trump. “They actually say that George Washington may have been the only other president that did, but they say no other. So I give up — it’s a lot of money, $450,000, close to.”
Yet, while Trump appears to have donated all of his presidential paychecks to date, he’s not the only president in history to do so. Hoover and Kennedy, the 31st and 35th presidents respectively, also gave away their salaries.
Like Trump, Hoover was independently wealthy prior to taking the oath of office in 1929. He donated his presidential salary to several different charities and to his associates, according to biographer George Nash.
“Hoover practiced the philanthropic values that he professed,” wrote Nash. “As president, he declined to spend any of his salary on himself.” (RELATED: Do Only 25% Of Americans Support Impeachment, As Trump Claims?)
When Kennedy got sworn in as president in 1961, he was the richest man in American history to do so, with his family fortune valued at $1 billion, according to Politico. He too donated his salary to a number of charities, including the Cuban Families Committee, the United Negro College Fund and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.
Other former presidents, including Barack Obama and George W. Bush, also made considerable charitable donations during their times in office. Forbes estimated Obama contributed over $1 million to charities while he was president, for instance.
Trump’s claim that Washington gave away his presidential salary doesn’t hold up either. Washington initially refused a salary but, after Congress insisted that the presidency should not be reserved for only the wealthy, ultimately accepted $25,000 per year.
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