Communities

New York State Sues Donald Trump, Alleging His Charity Engaged In ‘Persistently Illegal Conduct’

by Tod Perry

June 14, 2018

In Sept. 2016, The Washington Post accused Donald Trump of violating a law against “self-dealing” in 2007 by purchasing a painting of himself with his charity’s money.

According to the story, Trump bought the $10,000 painting at a charity event at Mar-A-Lago and paid for it with money from the Trump Foundation. To give further validity to the claims, Univision reporter Enrique Acevedo went on a search for the tacky yet legally significant piece of artwork.

He soon found it gracing the wall of a sports bar at Trump National Doral Miami, a golf course owned by the then-candidate.

The kerfuffle about the painting quickly exited the news cycle, but it prompted then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to launch a 20-month investigation of the Trump Foundation in Sept. 2016. On June 14 of this year, the state filed suit against Trump alleging his charity engaged in “persistently illegal conduct.”

The suit also names three board members of the charity, his eldest children: Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump. 

Current New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood has asked a state judge to dissolve the Trump Foundation, distribute its $1 million in assets to other charities, and fine Trump $2.8 million in restitution and penalties. Additionally, Underwood called for Trump to be banned from running any charities in the state for 10 years and also sent letters to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission for possible further action.

Beyond the painting’s purchase, the lawsuit alleges Trump violated state nonprofit laws by settling $258,000 in legal disputes with charity money. He also used $5,000 of it to promote his hotels at a charity gala.

“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. “This is not how private foundations should function and my office intends to hold the foundation accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.”

Trump, of course, says the charges are politically motivated.

On the 2016 campaign trail, Trump frequently accused Hillary Clinton of self-dealing through The Clinton Foundation (which, after an investigation by the FBI, never saw charges filed against it).

Since 2005, the Foundation has raised $313 million for the research and development of new vaccines and medications, treated over 36 million cases of tropical disease, and afforded maternal and child survival care to 110 million people.

Share image by Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

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New York State Sues Donald Trump, Alleging His Charity Engaged In ‘Persistently Illegal Conduct’