In lieu of a gift for President Trump’s 72nd birthday Thursday, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood sued him—and three of his children—alleging “a pattern of persistent illegal conduct” involving the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
“The petition filed today alleges a pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade, that includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump’s personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations,” Underwood’s office said in a statement.
The suit calls for the foundation to be dissolved and for Trump to be banned from serving as a director of any New York nonprofit for 10 years, as well as restitution of $2.8 million. Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. were also named in the suit. New York officials also wrote to the Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service “identifying possible violations of federal law for further investigation and legal action by those federal agencies,” according to the statement. Trump has already denounced the lawsuit on Twitter, linking it to disgraced former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
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!…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2018
Among the claims in the attorney general’s complaint:
- The Trump Foundation’s board allegedly hasn’t met since 1999 “and does not oversee the activities of the Foundation in any way . . . In the absence of a functioning board, Mr. Trump ran the Foundation according to his whim, rather than the law.”
- The foundation illegally coordinated with the Trump campaign in 2016 around Trump’s then-prominent veterans’ fundraiser, allegedly allowing the campaign to manage the event and disburse donations, including letting Trump award oversized checks to groups at campaign events. The complaint alleges “The Foundation’s name and address were printed on the enlarged presentation checks, along with the Trump Campaign slogan, ‘Make America Great Again!'”
- The foundation allegedly violated the law in 2013 by giving $25,000 to support Pam Bondi’s re-election campaign for Florida attorney general.
- $100,000 of foundation money was allegedly used to settle a dispute between the Town of Palm Beach and Mar-a-Lago, “even though the Foundation was not involved in the lawsuit in any way.” The foundation also allegedly paid $158,000 to settle a dispute over a Trump National Golf Club contest and $10,000 for a painting of Trump later displayed at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort. After the investigation began, Trump reimbursed the foundation for the Mar-a-Lago payment, the Golf Club repaid it for the contest settlement, and the Doral resort’s parent company returned the Trump painting to the foundation, ultimately also paying about $200 in rent and interest for its use, according to the complaint.
- The foundation allegedly lacked a state-required investment policy and kept its more than $1 million in funds “in a money market account, earning negligible interest.”