New York sues Trump, his char­ity over ‘self-deal­ing’

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE -

NEW YORK: The New York state at­tor­ney gen­eral sued U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, three of his chil­dren and his foun­da­tion Thurs­day, say­ing he il­le­gally used the non­profit as a per­sonal “check­book” for his own ben­e­fit, in­clud­ing his 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Bar­bara Un­der­wood, the at­tor­ney gen­eral, asked a state judge to dis­solve the Don­ald J. Trump Foun­da­tion and to ban Trump, his sons Don­ald Jr. and Eric, and his daugh­ter Ivanka from hold­ing lead­er­ship roles in New York char­i­ties. The three chil­dren joined the foun­da­tion’s board in 2006, al­though Ivanka stepped down to work at the White House in 2017.

Un­der­wood said her of­fice’s 21month in­ves­ti­ga­tion, be­gun un­der her pre­de­ces­sor Eric Sch­nei­der­man, un­cov­ered “ex­ten­sive un­law­ful po­lit­i­cal co­or­di­na­tion” by the foun­da­tion with Trump’s cam­paign, as well as “re­peated and will­ful self­deal­ing” to ben­e­fit Trump’s per­sonal, busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests.

Among the trans­ac­tions the law­suit cited as il­le­gal was a $10,000 pay­ment to the Uni­corn Chil­dren’s Foun­da­tion for a por­trait of Trump pur­chased at a fundrais­ing auc­tion in 2014. The por­trait would end up dec­o­rat­ing a wall at Trump’s Do­ral golf re­sort near Mi­ami, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported.

Another $100,000 went to a dif­fer­ent char­ity in 2007 to set­tle a le­gal dis­pute over a flag­pole erected in vi­o­la­tion of lo­cal or­di­nances at Mara-Lago, Trump’s pri­vate club and some­time res­i­dence in Palm Beach, Florida. “Mr. Trump ran the foun­da­tion ac­cord­ing to his whim, rather than the law,” the law­suit said.

The law­suit, filed on Trump’s 72nd birth­day in the state Supreme Court in Man­hat­tan, seeks $2.8 mil­lion of resti­tu­tion plus penal­ties, a 10-year ban on Trump serv­ing as a di­rec­tor of a New York non­profit and one-year bans for his chil­dren.

“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,” Un­der­wood said in a state­ment. “That is not how pri­vate foun­da­tions should func­tion.”

The foun­da­tion had no em­ploy­ees, had never writ­ten a re­quired pro­to­col for dis­burs­ing funds and its board of di­rec­tors, which “ex­isted in name only,” had not met since 1999, the law­suit said.

The Repub­li­can pres­i­dent at­tacked the law­suit in a se­ries of posts on Twit­ter that blamed Demo­cratic politi­cians in his home state.

The Trump Foun­da­tion is­sued a state­ment crit­i­ciz­ing the lat­est law­suit as “pol­i­tics at its very worst” and ac­cus­ing the at­tor­ney gen­eral of hold­ing its $1.7 mil­lion in re­main­ing funds “hostage for po­lit­i­cal gain.”

The foun­da­tion said in a state­ment it had dis­bursed more than $19 mil­lion to “wor­thy char­i­ta­ble causes” since its found­ing in 1987. –

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