The New York State attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the Donald J. Trump Foundation accusing the so called charity and the Trump family of violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the Trump presidential campaign.
The suit essentially claims Donald Trump used the funds donated to his charity as a slush fund.
The lawsuit seeks to dissolve the foundation and bar Trump and his three adult children, whom ostensibly served on the foundation board from 2006 to 2017, from ever serving on nonprofit organizations again.
The attorney general also sent referral letters to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission for possible further action.
The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan is the culmination of a nearly two-year investigation into Trump’s charity, which became a subject of scrutiny during and after the 2016 presidential campaign.
While Trump's foundation was supposed to be devoted to charitable activities, the petition asserts that it was often improperly used to pay off his legal bills, promote Trump hotels and purchase personal items.
The transactions include...
• Purchasing a $10,000 portrait of Mr. Trump that was hung at one of his golf clubs
• Settling a 2007 dispute between the City of Palm Beach and Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in which the foundation paid $100,000 to the Fisher House Foundation, another charity ... Trump actually kept a receipt!...
• In 2012, a man named Martin B. Greenberg sued the Trump National Golf Club after he made a hole in one at a fund-raising golf tournament that had promised to pay $1 million to golfers who aced the 13th hole. After refusing to pay the foundation shelled out $158,000 to a foundation run by Mr. Greenberg to settle the dispute.
• The foundation paid $5,000 to one organization for promotional space featuring Trump International Hotels.
• A sum of $32,000 was paid out to satisfy a pledge made by a privately held entity controlled by Mr. Trump to a charitable land trust.
These expenditures violate tax regulations that prohibit Trump from using his nonprofit charity for private interests.
But the suits most incriminating claim found that the foundation used it's donations to curry political favor during the 2016 race and became a virtual arm of Mr. Trump’s campaign.
The lawsuit produced emails from then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, directing its expenditures, after Trump had held a publicly televised charity event for U.S. veterans.
Lewandowski wrote in a January 2016 email obtained by the attorney general...
“Is there any way we can make some disbursements this week while in Iowa? Specifically on Saturday,”
The email’s subject line was, “RE: Veterans Charities.”
The petition additionally notes that Mr. Trump himself signed annual I.R.S. filings, under penalty of perjury, in which he attested that the foundation did not engage in political activity.
Barbara D. Underwood, New York’s attorney general said of the case...
“As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality. This is not how private foundations should function and my office intends to hold the foundation accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.”
The attorney general’s office is seeking the Trump Foundation to pay $2.8 million in restitution, the amount raised for the foundation at a 2016 Iowa political fund-raiser when Trump skipped a Republican debate and set up his own event to raise money for veterans.
It was never ascertained how much, if any, of the money collected that day went to veteran related charities.
You can read the New York’s attorney general's full lawsuit HERE.
The same office that filed today's action also filed a lawsuit against Trump University in 2016 in which Trump eventually paid out a $25 million settlement.