News & Politics

New York State Sues Trump and Some Family Members for Illegal Use of Charity Funds

The president's actions are said to represent repeated violations of both state and federal law.

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State

David Fahrenthold at the Washington Post is reporting that the state of New York has filed suit against Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump charging them with “persistently illegal conduct” in the operation of the fake charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

The Trump Foundation had been hovering in limbo for months after Trump admitted the foundation had engaged in “self dealing” and announced that he would close the foundation—notably within days of when Michael Cohen’s new LLC took over the job of paying Trump’s off-the-books actions. Since then the Trump Foundation has been held open by the New York attorney general’s office pending legal action. Now that action is here.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has asked for the remaining funds in the foundation to be dispersed to actual charities, and has assessed Trump and his three children, who were board members for the mock-charity, to cough up $2.8 million to cover the deceptive use of a foundation for personal business. 

Ivanka, Eric and Junior were included in the fines not because they directed the misuse of funds, but because they specifically failed to exercise the oversight required of those on the board of a charity. They didn’t meet as required, and didn’t address Trump’s illegal use of the funds to cover legal fees, giant portraits of himself, football memorabilia, and paying off a golf bet.

Underwood: As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality.

Underwood, who replaced Eric Schneiderman and has pledged not to seek re-election in the fall, indicated that Trump’s actions represent repeated violations of both state and federal law. In addition to seeking restitution and penalties, she has also sent letters to both the IRS and the FEC identifying possible violations of tax laws and campaign laws.

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Mark Sumner is the author of the nonfiction work "The Evolution of Everything" as well as several novels including "Devil's Tower."