Probe keeps Trump char­ity alive

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY VI­VIAN SALAMA AND LAU­RIE KELLMAN

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. | Don­ald Trump can­not move ahead with his plan to dis­man­tle his char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion be­cause state pros­e­cu­tors are prob­ing whether the pres­i­dent-elect per­son­ally ben­e­fited from its spend­ing, the New York at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice said Tues­day.

“The Trump foun­da­tion is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by this of­fice and can­not legally dis­solve un­til that in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete,” said Amy Spi­tal­nick, spokes­woman for state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man.

The state­ment was is­sued af­ter Mr. Trump an­nounced that he wanted to dis­solve the Don­ald J. Trump Foun­da­tion, part of what his pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion team says is an ef­fort to erase any po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est be­fore the bil­lion­aire de­vel­oper takes of­fice Jan. 20.

But the foun­da­tion’s in­ner work­ings have been the sub­ject of Mr. Sch­nei­der­man’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion for months and could re­main a thorny is­sue for Mr. Trump’s in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion. Democrats na­tion­ally have said they are ready to raise any le­gal or eth­i­cal is­sues from Mr. Trump’s global busi­ness em­pire dur­ing his pres­i­dency.

Mr. Trump’s char­ity has ad­mit­ted that it vi­o­lated IRS reg­u­la­tions bar­ring it from us­ing its money or as­sets to ben­e­fit Mr. Trump, his fam­ily, his com­pa­nies or sub­stan­tial con­trib­u­tors to the foun­da­tion.

The ad­mis­sions by the Don­ald J. Trump Foun­da­tion were in a 2015 tax fil­ing made pub­lic af­ter a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in which it was re­vealed that Mr. Trump has used the char­ity to set­tle law­suits, make a $25,000 po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion and pur­chase items, such as a paint­ing of him­self, that was dis­played at one of his prop­er­ties.

The 2015 tax fil­ing was posted on the nonprofit mon­i­tor­ing web­site GuideS­tar on Nov. 18 by some­one us­ing an email ad­dress from the foun­da­tion’s law firm, Mor­gan, Lewis & Bock­ius, said GuideS­tar spokes­woman Jackie En­ter­line Fekeci.

In the tax fil­ing, the foun­da­tion ac­knowl­edged that it used money or as­sets in vi­o­la­tion of the reg­u­la­tions not only dur­ing 2015, but also in prior years. But the tax fil­ing doesn’t pro­vide de­tails on the vi­o­la­tions.

Mr. Sch­nei­der­man, a Demo­crat, launched his in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the char­ity af­ter re­port­ing by The Wash­ing­ton Post drew at­ten­tion to some of the foun­da­tion’s pur­chases.

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