Since becoming a presidential candidate, Donald Trump has been in the eye of the press more than he would care for, perhaps. The media has looked not only at his previous statements, but his entire business career. Deals gone wrong, “creative” business practices, tax avoidance have all come under public scrutiny.
But Donald J. Trump isn’t just a billionaire and real-estate mogul. He is also a philanthropist. However, it looks like even his Trump Foundation might not be entirely legitimate. Because it was set up as a personal foundation, using Trump money, and later started asking for donations.
Donald J. Trump Foundation Not Registered
Donald Trump’s foundation has used money from donors to sustain itself financially. The money came from individuals outside Donald Trump’s family. However, the foundation did not complete all the legal requirements to be able to do that. The state of New York requires that charities obtain a certification before they can solicit money from the general public. According to the office of the attorney general for the state of New York, the Trump Foundation never obtained that certification.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation is based in New York. Under New York laws, any charity that raises more than $25,000 per year must get a special type of registration before they start fundraising. Charities that are not small, but large scale operations must meet other requirements as well. They must submit to an annual audit that meticulously looks at their finances. One of the things that the audit looks into is whether the charity has spent any money not on end goals, but on the personal benefit of those working at the foundation.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman could find out that the Trump Foundation was in violation of the law when it raised money. If that is the case, the Attorney General could order the Trump Foundation to stop raising any more money. There is the possibility that the charitable organization could also be ordered to return the money that it has already raised. But Eric Schneiderman would need a court’s permission for that to happen.
The Trump campaign has so far been quiet about the findings of the New York Attorney General. With a busy presidential campaign to run, they have not made any comments as of yet.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation Doing Fundraising
The Attorney General’s office did not make any official comments on whether or not they are investigating the Trump Foundation for not having proper registration. Eric Schneiderman has previously investigated the Trump Foundation for other reasons. After The Washington Post reported that Trump used money from his charity to make a contribution to a political campaign, he started an investigation. He also looked into a situation where Trump allegedly bought paintings of himself with the charity’s money. Another instance of wrongdoing was when charity money was used to settle several legal disputes in which Trump’s for-profit businesses were involved.
Tax filings from the Donald J. Trump Foundation show that in each of the past ten years, the charity raised over $25,000 from outside individuals. That means that the Trump Foundation was operating on donation money, not just on charitable contributions from the Trump family.
From looking at the tax records alone, it’s difficult to tell if the donations came from what New York law sees as solicitations. But in several cases it looks like the Trump Foundation did ask for money. For example, the Trump Foundation set up a website to collect small donations for the cause of veterans. The website promised that 100% of the donations were going to go to veterans’ needs. In all, the foundation raised $1.67 million through that website.
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