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Trump Agrees to Shut Down His Charity Amid Allegations That He Used It for Personal and Political Benefit
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=33217"><span class="small">David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post</span></a>   
Tuesday, 18 December 2018 14:27

Excerpt: "President Trump has agreed to shut down his embattled personal charity and to give away its remaining money amid allegations that he used the foundation for his personal and political benefit, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced Tuesday."

Ivanka Trump (R), Donald Trump Jr. (C) and Eric Trump. (photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump (R), Donald Trump Jr. (C) and Eric Trump. (photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)


Trump Agrees to Shut Down His Charity Amid Allegations That He Used It for Personal and Political Benefit

By David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post

18 December 18

 

resident Trump has agreed to shut down his embattled personal charity and to give away its remaining money amid allegations that he used the foundation for his personal and political benefit, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced Tuesday.

Underwood said that the Donald J. Trump Foundation is dissolving as her office pursues its lawsuit against the charity, Trump and his three eldest children.

The suit, filed in June, alleged “persistently illegal conduct” at the foundation and sought to have it shut down. Underwood is continuing to seek more than $2.8 million in restitution and has asked a judge to ban the Trumps temporarily from serving on the boards of other New York nonprofit organizations.

Underwood said Tuesday that her investigation found “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.”

“This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone,” she added in a statement.

The shuttering comes after The Washington Post documented apparent lapses at the foundation. Trump used the charity’s money to pay legal settlements for his private business, to purchase art for one of his clubs and to make a prohibited political donation.

Trump denied that the organization had done anything wrong. In late 2016, he said he wanted to close the foundation, but the New York attorney general blocked that move while it investigated.

The settlement with Underwood’s office represents a concession by Trump to a state investigation he decried as a partisan attack. The case is one of numerous legal investigations of Trump organizations that have proliferated during his presidency.

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, declined to comment.

In a court filing in New York, Underwood said that the foundation’s remaining $1.75 million would be distributed to other charities approved by her office and a state judge.

The attorney general’s suit alleges that Trump used his charity’s money as his own piggy bank — including to help his presidential campaign by paying for giveaways at Iowa rallies.

“The Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments to not-for-profits from Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization,” Underwood wrote in the initial suit.

The Trump Foundation was never the most impressive part of Trump’s portfolio: At its peak, in 2009, it had only about $3.2 million in the bank, a small sum for a billionaire’s charity.

The real estate mogul used other people’s donations to build up the foundation’s assets. In recent years, the largest gifts came from pro-wrestling moguls Vince and Linda McMahon, not Trump.

Trump gave away the money in his name and also used the foundation to pay his business’s legal settlements. Federal law prohibits using charity money for personal gain.

The Post’s reporting showed that, for years, Trump appeared to treat the foundation — which was, by law, an independent entity — as a checkbook for gifts that bolstered his interests.

The largest donation in the foundation’s history — a $264,231 gift to the Central Park Conservancy in 1989 — appeared to benefit Trump’s business: It paid to restore a fountain outside Trump’s Plaza Hotel. The smallest, a $7 foundation gift to the Boy Scouts that same year, appeared to benefit Trump’s family. It matched the amount required to enroll a boy in the Scouts the year that his son Donald Trump Jr. was 11.

The attorney general’s investigation turned up evidence that Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — all listed as officers of the charity — had never held a board meeting. The board hadn’t met since 1999. The charity’s official treasurer, Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg, told investigators that he wasn’t aware that he was on the board.

State investigators asked him what the foundation’s policies were to determine whether its payments were proper.

“There’s no policy, just so you understand,” Weisselberg said.

At one point, Trump used the charity’s money to make a $25,000 political donation to Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi (R). The charity didn’t tell the IRS about that, as required — and instead listed that donation as a gift to an unrelated charity in Kansas with a similar name. Trump’s team blamed accounting mistakes.

During the 2016 campaign, state investigators allege, Trump effectively “ceded control” of his charity to his political campaign. He raised more than $2 million at a fundraiser in Iowa that flowed into the foundation. Then, the state said, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski determined when and where it would be given away.

“Is there any way we can make some disbursements . . . this week while in Iowa?” Lewandowski wrote in an email cited in Underwood’s lawsuit.

Trump gave away oversize checks from the foundation at campaign events in the key early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, pausing his campaign rallies to donate to local veterans’ groups.

Federal law prohibits charities from participating in political campaigns. As president, Trump has called repeatedly for that law to be repealed.

The demise of the Trump Foundation still leaves one mystery regarding a large portrait of Trump that the future president bought for $20,000 in 2007, using money from the charity. What became of it after that is unknown.

In 2017, after The Post wrote about the portrait, Trump listed it as an asset on his charity’s IRS forms. He assigned it a value of $700. But he did not say where it was.

On this year’s tax forms, however, the painting’s value was listed at $0. Trump’s attorney did not respond to a query from The Post about why.

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+5 # BetaTheta 2018-12-18 15:03
My only beef with this article is the use of the word "charity" to reference the Trump Foundation.
 
 
+3 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-12-19 09:13
No wonder Trump doesn’t want to expose his I/T returns.