U.S. Second Circuit - The FindLaw 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

NY Sues to Dismantle Trump's Charitable Foundation

New York's attorney general says President Trump used his charitable foundation like it was his personal checkbook, including $10,000 he paid from the foundation for a painting of himself.

In People of the State of New York v. Trump, the state alleges Trump wrote a check for $100,000 to settle a zoning dispute for his Mar-a-Lago club. The attorney general is suing to recover $2.8 million in restitution and fines for years of illegal transactions.

The Trump Organization denies the allegations, but one thing seems clear. There was no collusion because Trump signed all the checks himself.

Trumps, Unlimited

Actually, Donald Trump was not the only one involved. The lawsuit also names Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric F. Trump.

That's because they all served on the board of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which the attorney general wants to dissolve. Melania, Tiffany, and Barron Trump apparently didn't serve on the board.

According to the petition, the foundation and its members engaged in a pattern of illegal conduct. It included "improper and extensive political activity," "willful self-dealing," and "failure to follow basic fiduciary obligations" and "elementary corporate formalities."

"In sum, the investigation revealed that the foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments to not-for-profits from Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization," the lawsuit states.

Charitable Election

Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold first pulled back the curtain on the Trump charity when he wrote how Trump used $258,00 from the foundation to settle his legal problems.

Two months later, Trump won the election. Prosecutors, in the meantime, dug deeper. They said he used foundation money for the election, too.

Paul S. Ryan, head of litigation at Common Cause, told Reuters that the allegations also raise campaign finance issues.

"This involvement of the Trump campaign in the foundation's disbursements right before the Iowa caucuses may very well violate the campaign finance law soft money ban," he said.

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