The Sandy recovery fund that Mrs. Christie started has handed out more than $37.7 million since it was founded in late 2012.
By contrast, the Donald J. Trump Foundation the candidates private, namesake foundation donated about $3.2 million over the three-year period according to IRS documents, including $591,000 in 2014, the latest year available.
The candidate himself hasnt donated a single dollar to the foundation since a $30,000 gift in 2008, which is well within his rights, Kansas University nonprofit law professor Bruce Hopkins said.
Theres no obligation right now for Trump to put any money into his foundation, Hopkins said. Once its established, theres no obligation on his or anybody elses part.
If he has donated more, it remains under wraps.
The candidate has repeatedly rebuffed calls to release his federal income tax returns, saying they are under IRS audit. Instead, he has provided financial statements outlining $102 million of charitable giving that Indiana University philanthropy professor Leslie Lenkowsky calls bad philanthropy.
Instead of cash gifts and grants, Trump counts free rounds of golf, spa trips and hotel stays at properties he owns as charitable giving. In Lenkowskys view, that doesnt exactly equate to charity.
We typically think that philanthropy has to involve your own money or time. There should be an element of sacrifice, Lenkowsky said. Obviously, theres not a lot of that going on.
Christie has become one of Trumps closest political allies, often seen at his side during major campaign events. The governor ended his own GOP presidential bid earlier this year.
The nonprofit organized by Mary Pat Christie has lapped Trumps foundation as well: The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, founded shortly after the October 2012 storm, distributed $7.1 million in gifts last year.
It surpassed the Trump foundations giving in one single, $600,000 donation to the United Way of Monmouth County.
While the Sandy fund whose IRS 990 forms list Mary Pat Christie as its president is a typical disaster relief fund, the Trump foundation is a reflection of the individual, Lenkowsky said. The Trump foundation distributed hundreds of thousands in small donations to medical societies and disease research; it also regularly donates to politically oriented organizations headed up by potential allies.
In 2014, the Trump foundation gave a $100,000 grant to the Citizens United Foundation, which is dedicated to restoring our government to citizens control, and $25,000 to the American Spectator Foundation, which publishes the conservative American Spectator magazine.
A year earlier, it gave $50,000 to the American Conservative Union Foundation, founded by former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.
But under the IRS guidelines for nonprofits, donating to politically active organizations is perfectly acceptable, according to Hopkins. The line is drawn at political campaigns and committees, he said.
The tax law is quite clear: Charities are not supposed to spend any money on any political campaign activity at all. There are even tougher rules for foundations, Hopkins said. If a private foundation were to do that, it would be open to excise taxes and probably loss of its tax-exempt status.
While about $6.4 million of Trumps self-reported charitable giving was from in-kind gifts, another category worried Lenkowsky. According to the Washington Post, Trump listed $63.8 million in conservation easements land that hes vowed not to develop as charitable giving.
If I say, Im not going to build on a beachfront because I want to protect the property, I can call that a gift, Lenkowsky said. That doesnt mean people at your resort cant go on the beachfront. You do yield something. Youre agreeing not to build on it, but youre really sacrificing very little especially if you had no intent whatsoever of building there.
A Trump foundation spokesman did not return requests for comment.Clintons nonprofit powerhouse
Trumps charitable giving is also a drop in the bucket held by his likely Democratic rival for the presidency, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
According to her 2014 federal tax returns, Clinton and former president Bill Clinton donated $3 million in gifts to charity, 99.9 percent of which went to the Clinton Foundation, an international nonprofit with multiple areas of focus, including hunger, disease prevention, economics and climate change.
The money may have come from speaking engagements, but its still their money and thats the difference, Lenkowsky said. They could have used that $3 million to buy a jet plane.
The Clinton Foundation took in $172.5 million in revenue in 2014 and gave out $5.1 million in grants.
It paid more than $34 million in salaries. Its stated aim: to make a difference by funding operations instead of relying on grant awards.
Clearly, the Clinton foundation is a real entity in the philanthropic world and is thought of that way, Lenkowsky said.
But it has also faced criticism for accepting large donations from foreign governments since its inception, including governments that Clinton later negotiated with during her tenure as secretary of state.
On May 12, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Clinton Global Initiative, an arm of the foundation, had arranged a $2 million investment in Energy Pioneer Solutions, a for-profit company with three part-owners tied to the Clintons.
The foundations commitment system acts like a matchmaker, usually setting up private companies that invest money in nonprofits that support specific global issues. A foundation spokesman could only provide three specific examples that involved a for-profit company receiving funding.
Lenkowsky said the allegations in the Wall Street Journal report are troubling, a lot of smoke that nobodys been able to link to fire.
However, just because Energy Pioneer Solutions executives are friendly with the Clintons doesnt mean theyre not doing something important and within the foundations orbit. But those are troubling.
Nonetheless, questions about charitable giving arent likely to swing an election, Seton Hall University professor Matthew Hale said.
While there has been a brooding narrative that Trump may not be as rich as he has long maintained, concerns about in-kind giving which is legal, despite not being worth actual money is not enough to sway the voters.
It does little to damage his persona as this philanthropic, wonderful, benevolent billionaire, Hale said.
The only way it affects him is if the narrative of Trump really is a liar, takes hold, Hale said. It may take hold or it may not. This would feed into that but, by itself, I dont think it makes a difference.
Donated $30,000 since 2008, according to the only public record available. He may have given more, but Trump said he will not release his personal income tax forms until an IRS audit is finished. The $30,000 personal donation was made to his namesake foundation.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation: $591,450 in grants in 2014, the most recent year available. Most checks were for $5,000 or less. The largest check, $100,000, went to the Citizens United Foundation, a charity that promotes conservative values. Other checks: $50,000, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; $26,500, Anti-Defamation League; $25,000, American Spectator Foundation; $25,000, Nicklaus Childrens Health Care Foundation; $25,000, Police Athletic League.; $20,000, Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE AND FIRST LADY MARY PAT CHRISTIE
Donated more than $145,000 since 2009, including $27,109 in 2014. Recipients not listed on tax returns.
Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund: $7.1 million last year. The charity, spearheaded by New Jerseys first lady, following 2012 superstorm Sandy, has given a total of $37.7 million to non-profit groups over three years. Donations include: $1.5 million to the Community Loan Fund of New Jersey; $750,000 to St. Bernard Project (Chalmette, La.); $600,000, United way of Monmouth County; $500,000, Habitat for Humanity of Monmouth County; $500,000, Foodbank of Monmouth amp; Ocean Counties; $356,000, Rebuilding Together for Bergen County; $253,000, Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity.
Donated $3 million last year along with her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Nearly all of the money went to her familys Clinton Foundation.
The Clinton Foundation: $5.1 millionin grants and more than$34 millionin staff salaries in 2014 across the globe. to promote global health and wellness, economic growth for women and girls and other charitable ventures.
Sources: IRS 990s; gubernatorial tax releases