New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office has ordered Donald Trump’s charity foundation to cease fundraising here after it failed to obtain the proper registration to solicit donations—a violation of state law.
The “Notice of Violation” was sent to the Donald J. Trump Foundation on Friday. It explicitly orders Trump to “immediately” cease solicitations or engaging in fundraising efforts, and gives the foundation up to 15 days to hand over the requisite documents.
“Despite failing to register pursuant to Article 7-A, the Trump Foundation solicited contributions in New York State earlier this year, in violation of New York law,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.
My office sent a Notice of Violation to the Trump Foundation. More information, and the letter, here: https://t.co/vv6Q2BevUw
— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) October 3, 2016
The order from the attorney general’s office comes as several news organizations, most notably The Washington Post, have scrutinized Trump’s foundation for its apparent reliance on donations from contributors other than the charity’s namesake. The Post reported that Trump himself has not donated personally to his own foundation since 2008.
Additionally, The Post reported that Trump used a quarter-million dollars in donations to settle business lawsuits. The paper was also the first to reveal that the foundation was not registered in New York to solicit donations within the state.
The attorney general’s notice focuses entirely on the foundation’s apparent failure to register with New York.
“While we remain very concerned about the political motives behind A.G. Schneiderman’s investigation, the Trump Foundation nevertheless intends to cooperate fully with the investigation,” said Hope Hicks, Trump’s spokeswoman, in a statement, according to The New York Times. “Because this is an ongoing legal matter, the Trump Foundation will not comment further at this time.”
Last month, Schneiderman, a Democrat who supports Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton, revealed that his office was scrutinizing whether the Trump Foundation was complying with state law.
“My interest in this issue really is in my capacity as regulator of non-profits in New York State, and we have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety from that point of view,” Schneiderman told CNN at the time.
Trump’s surrogates have described Schneiderman’s probe as a partisan attack intended to prop up Hillary Clinton, who was a U.S. Senator (D-NY) before she became Secretary of State in the Obama administration.
Jason Miller, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, told CNN that Schneiderman’s investigation is “nothing more than another left-wing hit job.” He also accused New York’s attorney general of turning a blind eye to the non-profit Clinton Foundation.
Clinton briefly mentioned Trump’s much ballyhooed philanthropy in the pair’s first debate last week at Hofstra University, suggesting that Trump was adverse to releasing his tax returns because, among other things, he may not be as charitable as he claims.
The news comes during a particularly rough stretch for Trump’s campaign.
His debate performance at Hofstra University, which was widely panned, spawned a week-long spat with a former Miss Universe winner—prompting an early morning Twitter rant from the Republican tycoon—and on Saturday evening The New York Times revealed that Trump may have avoided paying taxes for as long as 18 years after losing nearly $1 billion in 1995.
Meanwhile, New York’s attorney general is reportedly continuing his separate case against Trump University for defrauding its students. After initially announcing that her office was contemplating joining in a multi-state suit against Trump’s for-profit enterprise, Florida Attorney General Pam Biondi did not pursue similar complaints from students in her state. Later it was revealed that the Trump Foundation had given Biondi’s political committee a $25,000 donation in 2013, and the IRS subsequently fined Trump $2,500 because the contribution from a non-profit charity violated federal tax law. Trump’s campaign says that there is no connection between the campaign donation and the Florida AG’s decision not to pursue the complaints against Trump’s institution of higher learning.
(Featured photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)