Trump Says He's Going to Shut Down His Foundation, But He Can't Do It Legally

No matter what he says in his Twitter feed, President-elect Donald Trump has been told by the New York Attorney General’s office that he cannot close down his charitable foundation while it’s still under investigation.

“The Trump Foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete,” said Amy Spitalnick, the press secretary for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in a statement to ABC News on Monday. “The Foundation’s fundraising activities remain suspended following the AG’s notice of violation earlier this year.”

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks reiterated the president-elect’s initial position in an email to ABC News:  “As the statement says, ‘Mr. Trump has directed his counsel to take the necessary steps to effectuate the dissolution.'”

Naturally, the president-elect attempted to spin the story in a more favorable direction for himself through a tweet on Monday night.

While Trump did indeed give $2.7 million to his foundation between 2001 and 2008, he is not listed as having donated any money over the past eight years.

Trump’s tweet doesn’t mention the reasons for the controversy over his foundation. Attorney General Schneiderman had to order the foundation to stop dispersing funds earlier this year because it had not received the legal certification needed to solicit money. Similarly, the foundation is under investigation because of its alleged improper use of the charity’s funds, including donating $25,000 to a campaign fundraising group for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Trump had to pay a $2,500 fine to the IRS because charities are not allowed to give political donations.

The Trump Foundation was also revealed to have spent $258,000 settling lawsuits related to Trump’s personal businesses, which may have violated tax laws against “self-dealing,” according to a Washington Post report in September. His foundation also purchased a football helmet for him, as well as a $20,000 painting of Trump himself.

Finally, the president-elect’s actions regarding the Trump Foundation and other conflicts of interest related to his businesses fall far short of what ethics experts say are required.

“Many ethics experts still say the only way Mr. Trump can eliminate his most serious conflicts is to liquidate his company, and then put the money into a blind trust — a move Mr. Trump has so far rejected as impractical and unreasonable,” wrote The New York Times on Saturday.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.