President out of sight as New York AG sues Trump Foundation
The New York attorney general on Thursday sued President Donald Trump’s charitable foundation along with its directors — the President, his sons Eric and Donald Jr. and daughter Ivanka — alleging they violated state and federal charities law.
Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleges a pattern of persistent illegal conduct over more than a decade that includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign.
“As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his business to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” Underwood said.
The attorney general is asking a court to dissolve the Trump Foundation and wants $2.8 million in restitution plus additional penalties.
She seeks to ban Trump from serving as a director of a New York not-for-profit for 10 years and the remaining board members — Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric Trump — from serving for one year, or until they receive fiduciary training.
The suit alleges that the Trump Foundation engaged in “repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump’s personal and business interests.”
The suit contends that the Trump Foundation used the tax-deductible donations in at least five instances that benefited Trump or businesses he controls.
These instances include a $100,000 payment to settle legal claims against his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The lawsuit contains a note from Donald Trump, which alleges that he personally directed his accounting staff to draw the $100,000 payment from the assets of the foundation to pay a legal settlement at his resort. Any personal, legal or business transactions, not having to do with the charity, should have been made from his personal or business accounts.
The suit also alleges a $158,000 payment to settle legal claims against his Trump National Golf Club in 2008 from a hole-in-one tournament; and a $10,000 payment at a charity auction to purchase a painting of Trump that was displayed at the Trump National Doral in Miami.
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“This is not how private foundations should function, and my office intends to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for its misuse of charitable assets,” Underwood said.
Underwood said that after the investigation by her office began in 2016, the foundation paid excise taxes on three of the transactions, and Trump restored funds for the transactions to the foundation. But she added that the foundation has not paid excise taxes on the Mar-a-Lago or Trump National Golf Club transactions
“This is politics at its very worst,” a Trump Foundation representative said in a statement. “The Foundation has donated over $19 million to worthy charitable causes — more than it even received. The President himself — or through his companies — has contributed more than $8 million. The reason the Foundation was able to donate more than it took in is because it had little to no expenses. This is unheard of for a charitable foundation. The Foundation currently has $1.7 million remaining which the NYAG has been holding hostage for political gain. This is unconscionable — particularly because the Foundation previously announced its intention to dissolve more than a year and a half ago. The prior NYAG, who was recently forced to resign from office in disgrace, made it his stated mission to use this matter to not only advance his own political goals, but also for his own political fundraising. The acting NYAG’s recent statement that battling the White House is ‘the most important work (she) have ever done’ shows that such political attacks will continue unabated.”