Trump ac­cused of mis­us­ing char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD -

New York’s at­tor­ney gen­eral sued Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his foun­da­tion Thursday, ac­cus­ing him of il­le­gally us­ing the char­ity’s money to set­tle dis­putes in­volv­ing his busi­ness em­pire and to boost his po­lit­i­cal for­tunes dur­ing his run for the White House.

The pres­i­dent called the case “ridicu­lous.’’

The law­suit against Trump and the foun­da­tion di­rec­tors _ his chil­dren Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka _ seeks $2.8 mil­lion in resti­tu­tion, ad­di­tional un­spec­i­fied penal­ties and the dis­so­lu­tion of the foun­da­tion, which Trump had al­ready pledged to dis­man­tle.

The at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice de­tailed what it said was a closely co-or­di­nated ef­fort by Trump’s cam­paign and the foun­da­tion to bur­nish his po­lit­i­cal im­age by giv­ing out big grants of other’s peo­ple money to vet­er­ans’ or­ga­ni­za­tions dur­ing the run-up to the Iowa cau­cuses, the first pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nat­ing con­test of 2016.

“The foun­da­tion’s grants made Mr. Trump and the cam­paign look char­i­ta­ble and in­creased the can­di­date’s pro­file to Repub­li­can pri­mary vot­ers and among im­por­tant con­stituent groups,’’ Demo­cratic At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bar­bara Un­der­wood’s law­suit said.

It ac­cused the foun­da­tion of “im­proper and ex­ten­sive po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, re­peated and wil­ful self-deal­ing trans­ac­tions, and fail­ure to fol­low ba­sic fidu­ciary obli­ga­tions.’’

Un­der­wood re­ferred her find­ings to the IRS and the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion for pos­si­ble fur­ther ac­tion. IRS and FEC rep­re­sen­ta­tives de­clined to com­ment.

The Trump Foun­da­tion’s mis­sion says its funds are to be used “ex­clu­sively for char­i­ta­ble, re­li­gious, sci­en­tific, lit­er­ary or ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses,’’ ac­cord­ing to the law­suit.

In ex­change for tax-ex­empt sta­tus, char­i­ties are re­quired to fol­low rules that in­clude a strict pro­hi­bi­tion against in­volve­ment in po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns.

In tweets, Trump vowed: “I won’t set­tle this case!’’

He said for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man, who started the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, “never had the guts to bring this ridicu­lous case’’ be­fore re­sign­ing last month af­ter be­ing ac­cused of phys­i­cally abus­ing women he dated. Sch­nei­der­man has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

Trump’s foun­da­tion called the case “pol­i­tics at its very worst,’’ not­ing that Sch­nei­der­man, a Demo­crat, was a vo­cal Trump op­po­nent. White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders, mean­while, called Un­der­wood “out­ra­geously bi­ased.’’ The 31-yearold foun­da­tion said that it has given more than $19 mil­lion to char­i­ta­ble causes while keep­ing ex­penses min­i­mal, and that Trump and his com­pa­nies have con­trib­uted more than $8 mil­lion.

Un­der­wood is a ca­reer gov­ern­ment lawyer who was ap­pointed af­ter Sch­nei­der­man’s res­ig­na­tion. She has said she doesn’t in­tend to run for elec­tion.

AP PHOTO

Don­ald Trump speaks be­hind a Don­aldTrump­forVets.com sign at a fundrais­ing event in Des Moines, Iowa, at Drake Uni­ver­sity dur­ing Trump’s cam­paign for pres­i­dent. New York At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bar­bara Un­der­wood filed a law­suit Wednesday ac­cus­ing Trump of il­le­gally us­ing his char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion to pay le­gal set­tle­ments related to his golf clubs and to bol­ster his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

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