Former Union-Tribune owner Douglas Manchester, his appointment by Republican President Donald Trump to be ambassador to the Bahamas stalled for over two years in a GOP Senate, has been promoting his charitable good work on a public relations tour of San Diego TV news.
"Manchester spoke to NBC 7 Thursday from his office in downtown San Diego. He said he traveled to the Bahamas on Saturday, September 7 and delivered 2,000 pounds of relief supplies using his own private plane," according to a September 12 KNSD dispatch.
"I held a little boy in my arms. His mother and father are gone. All he wanted was a hug," the real estate developer was quoted as saying.
"You can't sort of ignore it. You have to give it your time, talent and treasury to help these wonderful brothers and sisters."
It was the local GOP kingmaker to the rescue of the Hurricane Dorian-disrupted islands, at least by his own account and a September 7 tweet from the president himself.
"I would also like to thank 'Papa' Doug Manchester, hopefully, the next ambassador to the Bahamas, for the incredible amount of time, money and passion he has spent on helping to bring safety to the Bahamas," wrote Trump.
But just how much cash Manchester personally puts into the effort remains to be seen. The La Jolla developer, reputedly worth mega-millions, is using his non-profit Manchester Charitable Foundation to solicit money and material donations from the public, which he promises to pass on to beleaguered Bahamians.
Cell phone video shot with his executive jet as a backdrop features Palm Beach model Bettina Anderson saying "Thank you so much, Papa Doug. We're loaded up!" before throwing him a kiss.
The website assures would-be donors that "Papa Doug has given approximately $70 million to various organizations throughout the last four decades," but disclosure filings with the Internal Revenue Service made by Manchester's charity relate a more modest story.
During the foundation's 2017 tax year, ending March 31, 2018, per a February 12, 2019 IRS disclosure filing, $105,650 in gifts, grants, and contributions were received by the non-profit, including $98,150 from the Papa Doug Trust IRA, with a Nassau address.
Over the same period, the foundation handed out $200,596. All but $596 went to the Sharp Healthcare Foundation. The balance of $596 was described only as a "passthrough from Boffo Cinemas."
Among total end-of-year net assets on hand of $1,873,440 was a $771,852 stake in Boffo Partners, LLC and Boffo Cinemas Scripps, LLC. The remainder was in a Wells Fargo account. Manchester executive Richard V. Gibbons was the non-profit's only officer and board member, per the document.
Donations during the foundation's 2016 tax year, which ended March 31, 2017, were even lower, with $62,197 in income attributed to contributions and grants, according to a February 15, 2018 filing.
The Papa Doug Trust contributed $48,447, and Pacific Southwest Realty, identified on its website as "a privately-held commercial real estate finance company," came up with $6,000. The foundation gave away just $166 in grants and contributions, also in the form of "passthrough from Boffo investors" and two related entities. Total assets at the end of the year were $1,997,507
In 2015 the non-profit was called the Manchester Family Life Foundation, but the results were similar, with the only grants and contributions made by the non-profit listed as a $382 "passthrough from Boffo Investors, LLC."
$4250 was received in unspecified "contributions, gifts, grants, etc," according to a November 18, 2016 filing. Total end-of-year assets were $1,867,956, per the document.
Manchester's round of TV appearances is his most recent attempt to garner good public opinion and counter his negative reputation as a ladies man and San Diego political power broker, as related last year by the Washington Post.
Following the Post's disclosures of the ex-U-T publisher's "unsettling management style" and subsequent Bahamian reports that his nomination might be pulled, Manchester's company, Manchester Financial Group, retained the services of former Trump transition advisor Christian Whiton of Banner Public Affairs to keep the flame alive, per a May 2018 Politico account.
Disclosures show Manchester paid Banner $40,000 last year according to data posted online by OpenSecrets.org.