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New York Attorney General: Trump Foundation Is a Sham

Barbara Underwood sues to shut it down, prevent Trumps from leading other charities
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2018 10:45 AM CDT
Updated Jun 14, 2018 2:39 PM CDT
New York Attorney General: Trump Foundation Is a Sham
President Trump says the allegations have no merit.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(Newser) – New York's new attorney general came down hard on President Trump, the foundation that bears his name, and his three eldest children on Thursday. Barbara Underwood sued all of the above, alleging that the Donald J. Trump Foundation hasn't functioned as the charity it was set up to be, reports Bloomberg. Instead, Donald Trump used it over and over again improperly for his own business and political ventures, says Underwood, adding that Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump didn't fulfill their roles as board members in stopping him. President Trump quickly refuted the allegations and vowed not to settle the case. Details and developments:

  • Out of charities? Underwood not only wants to shut down the 31-year-old foundation, she wants to bar Donald Trump from leading another New York charity for 10 years and his children from serving on any nonprofit boards for a year. She's also demanding that Donald Trump pay $2.8 million in penalties and restitution, and that the foundation's $1 million in assets be doled out to other charities, reports the Washington Post.

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  • Trump's response: Trump took to Twitter soon after the news broke. "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," he wrote. "I won’t settle this case!" In another tweet, he says Schneiderman, who recently resigned over allegations of physical abuse, "never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case," but now his "disciples" have.
  • 'Self-dealing': "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," says Underwood in a statement. The lawsuit, meanwhile, charges the foundation with "improper and extensive political activity, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions, and failure to follow basic fiduciary obligations or to implement even elementary corporate formalities required by law.”
  • Bigger trouble? Underwood sent letters of referral to the IRS and the FEC, alleging that the charity essentially served as an arm of the Trump campaign despite explicit rules forbidding it, reports the New York Times. Schneiderman launched his investigation in October 2016 after a Washington Post investigation about potential violations. The Times has a separate explainer on the whole situation.
  • A non-campaign example: In 2007, Trump settled a dispute with the city of Palm Beach, Florida, over code issues at his Mar-a-Lago resort. The resort was supposed to give $100,000 to a charity, but instead the money came from the Trump foundation, according to the lawsuit. (See it in full here.)
  • I'm on the board? The Washington Post highlights an exchange during the deposition of Trump Organization employee Allen Weisselberg, listed as the foundation's treasurer. Asked what policy the foundation had for determining the proper use of money, he answered, "There's no policy, just so you understand." When the interviewer asked him if he knew he'd been a board member for years, he answered, "I did not." Underwood alleged the board hadn't met since 1999, reports Politico.
(Read more Donald J. Trump Foundation stories.)

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