There is a saying that “charity begins at home”. It would seem that the Trump family has taken that saying to heart and made their ‘non-profit’ charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, their own. However, it may not work out so well for them …
“The New York attorney general filed suit against President Trump and his three eldest children Thursday, alleging “persistently illegal conduct” at the president’s personal charity, saying Trump repeatedly misused the nonprofit organization — to pay off his businesses’ creditors, to decorate one of his golf clubs and to stage a multimillion-dollar giveaway at his 2016 campaign events.
In the suit, filed Thursday morning, Attorney General Barbara Underwood asked a state judge to dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation. She asked that its remaining $1 million in assets be distributed to other charities and that Trump be forced to pay at least $2.8 million in restitution and penalties.” – David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post, 14 June 2018
The foundation has been a source of controversy for some time, and was fined $2,500 by the IRS in 2016 for making political contributions to Florida then-Attorney General Pam Bondi. Also in 2016, the foundation admitted to the Internal Revenue Service that it violated a legal prohibition against “self-dealing,” which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity’s money to help themselves, their businesses or their families. In at least two instances, foundation funds were used to settle lawsuits against Trump’s for-profit businesses, including Mar-a-Lago and Trump National Golf Club.
You may also remember that in early 2016, at a campaign fund-raiser prior to the Iowa caucus, Trump claimed to have raised some $5.6 million for veterans, but two months later, little of that money had been distributed. Only after criticism by the media was the money distributed and a list of recipients provided.
Trump himself did not donate a single penny to the foundation between 2008 and 2015. One of the largest donors was Linda McMahon and her husband, Vince. Linda was later named head of the Small Business Administration. Can you spell p-l-u-t-o-c-r-a-c-y?
The New York Attorney General’s office has been investigating the foundation for some 20 months, ever since an investigative report by The Washington Post in October 2016. In addition to numerous incidents of improper disbursements from the foundation’s coffers, it appears that on more than one occasion, the foundation was used to funnel profits from Trump’s businesses in order to avoid taxes.
The foundation is such a sham that its board of directors has not met since 1999, nearly 20 years, and its official treasurer was not even aware that he was on the board! The foundation has no employees.
In addition to the restitution and damages of $2.8 million that Trump and his children will be forced to pay if the lawsuit is successful, the suit requests that Trump be barred from participating in any charitable organization in New York for a period of ten years, and Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric for a period of one year each. Letters were also sent to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Federal Elections Commission (FEC) for possible further action.
Trump, of course, is looking to deflect the blame:
“The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!”
“Schneiderman, who ran the Clinton campaign in New York, never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in disgrace, and his disciples brought it when we would not settle.”
A.G. Underwood’s response was a written statement:
“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.”
Contrary to Trump’s rant, there appears to be very solid evidence that the foundation has served as little more than Trump’s personal checkbook, as a way to filter money in order to avoid paying taxes. The foundation has been in existence since 1987 and will be dissolved once this lawsuit is decided. Perhaps the best thing here is that the lawsuit is filed in the State of New York, not in federal courts, so it will not be possible for Trump to pardon himself! Perhaps finally there will be a price to pay for all his years of dishonesty? We can only hope.