Trump Foundation to Close Amid Lawsuit Accusing It of ‘Willful Self-Dealing’


“The N.Y.A.G.’s inaccurate statement of this morning is a further attempt to politicize this matter,” he added.

The investigation of the foundation was begun by Eric T. Schneiderman, the former attorney general, who was an antagonist of Mr. Trump before stepping down amid revelations of sexual misconduct this year.

Next month, the ongoing case will fall to the incoming attorney general, Letitia James, a vocal critic of Mr. Trump who said recently that she would “use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family.”

Ms. Underwood’s office sued the Trump Foundation in June, charging it with “improper and extensive political activity, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions, and failure to follow basic fiduciary obligations or to implement even elementary corporate formalities required by law.”

[Want to know more about the Trump Foundation? Read this explainer.]

Nonprofit foundations are supposed to be devoted to charitable activities, but the attorney general’s office, following a two-year investigation, accused the Trump Foundation of being used to win political favor and even purchase a $10,000 portrait of Mr. Trump that was displayed at one of his golf clubs. The existence of the portrait was first reported by The Washington Post.

Mr. Trump was required to sign annual I.R.S. filings in which he attested that the foundation did not engage in political activity.

The lawsuit accused the foundation of virtually becoming an arm of the Trump campaign, with its campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, directing the foundation to make disbursements in Iowa only days before the state held its presidential nominating caucuses.

“Is there any way we can make some disbursements [from the proceeds of the fund-raiser] this week while in Iowa? Specifically on Saturday,” Mr. Lewandowski wrote to the foundation’s treasurer in an email disclosed in the lawsuit.

Such charities are also barred from advancing the self-interests of its executives over the charity’s mission, but the attorney general’s office said in a court filing this year that the foundation had entered into a number of “prohibited self-dealing transactions that directly benefited Mr. Trump or entities that he controlled.”

One of those was revealed by a note in Mr. Trump’s handwriting that said $100,000 of Trump Foundation money should be directed to another charity to settle a legal dispute between the Town of Palm Beach and Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

The attorney general’s office is seeking for the Trump Foundation to pay $2.8 million in restitution, which is the amount raised for the foundation at an Iowa fund-raiser in 2016 that Mr. Trump held on the day that he avoided attending a debate with his Republican rivals. The foundation reported $1.7 million in assets in 2017 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Last month, a New York state judge ruled that the lawsuit could proceed, even as Mr. Trump’s lawyers had argued that the court did not have jurisdiction over Mr. Trump, as president, and that the statute of limitations had passed on some of the issues.

“I find I have jurisdiction over Mr. Trump,” Justice Saliann Scarpulla wrote in a 27-page ruling.

Mr. Futerfas had said in a statement then that “all of the money raised by the Foundation went to charitable causes” and that “we remain confident in the ultimate outcome of these proceedings.

“I won’t settle this case!” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter in June, accusing “the sleazy New York Democrats” of targeting him.



Source link Nytimes.com

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