Last Friday, the New York Attorney General’s office notified Donald Trump that his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, is in violation of state law and must stop fundraising immediately, as first reported by The Washington Post. In addition, Trump will be required, in the next 15 days, to file the necessary paperwork to change its tax status and the necessary documents for a series of audits that will stretch back several years.
If he fails to do so, James Sheehan, head of the N.Y. AG’s charities bureau says the Foundation’s actions will be considered “a continuing fraud upon the people of New York.”
The matter stems from a previous Post story, which revealed that the Trump Foundation had failed to register under the state’s “7A” law, a requirement for organizations that solicit more than $25,000 per year in public donations. Tax records show that the Foundation has surpassed that benchmark in each of the past ten years. (It is not possible to determine from tax records alone whether the donations in those years qualify as solicitations under New York law, but there is evidence to suggest that they did qualify, including internal records from Trump’s businesses and statements from his spokespeople.)
The Foundation was formed in 1987, reportedly to give away Trump’s half of the proceeds from his book, The Art of the Deal. For as many as 16 years after its inception, Trump was the Foundation’s sole donor. That changed in the early 2000s, yet was never reflected in the organization’s official standing with the state.
Earlier this year, when Trump elected to skip a primary debate as part of his feud with Fox News, he instead held a televised fundraiser that claimed to benefit veterans. He set up a website, donaldtrumpforvets.com, which was run through the Trump Foundation, and which purported to raise almost $1.7 million. However, as per the N.Y. AG’s office, this was illegal, as it was not subject to the more rigorous oversight required of outfits registered as 7A.
The purpose of 7A classification is to ensure that a charity is not defrauding the public by unduly benefitting its officers or by making improper gifts. The Trump Foundation has come under fire for both — especially in the case of its $25,000 donation to a group that supported Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, in the midst of a legal battle in that state over Trump’s for-profit Trump University.
(Via Washington Post)