New York sues Trump’s foundation for steering funds
A case filed by New York’s attorney general on Thursday accuses United States President Donald Trump of using his charitable foundation to settle personal business disputes and to bolster his political image through donations directed by his staff.
The Donald J Trump Foundation “was little more than a cheque book for payments from Mr Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality”, Democratic Attorney General Barbara Underwood said, as she sued to dissolve the foundation and seek US$2.8 million (Dh10.3m) in restitution.
The lawsuit says the foundation illegally helped to support the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign by raising money at a nationally televised fundraiser in January 2016, then allowed campaign staffers to dictate how the money was spent in grants.
In a couple of tweets, Mr Trump called the case “ridiculous” and said he would not settle the lawsuit.
Mr Trump made a similar claim that he would not settle a lawsuit which charged that his Trump University misled customers, but then paid a $25m settlement last year.
Foundation attorney Sheri Dillon and a Trump Organisation spokeswoman did not respond to messages for comment.
The foundation’s mission says its funds are to be used “exclusively for charitable, religious, scientific, literary or educational purposes”, either directly or through other organisations, according to the court filing.
In keeping with federal tax rules, the charity’s incorporation documents say none of its resources can directly or indirectly go to the benefit of its directors or officers, and none of its activities can benefit any political candidate, the filing notes. Ms Underwood’s predecessor, Democrat Eric Schneiderman, began investigating the foundation in 2016 after The Washington Post reported its spending had benefited the presidential candidate personally. Mr Schneiderman ordered the foundation to stop fundraising in New York.
The Trump campaign, at the time, said the foundation intended to co-operate with the inquiry. The campaign had previously called Mr Schneiderman “a partisan hack” who backed Mr Trump’s 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Mr Schneiderman resigned last month following allegations of abusing women he had dated; he denied the claims.
The lawsuit was filed on Thursday against the foundation and its directors, Mr Trump and his
The New York State Attorney General has accused the president of using charity resources for his 2016 campaign
children Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump.
Mr Trump quickly took to Twitter after the lawsuit was filed, to say: “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.”