Trump paid illegal campaign contribution to escape ‘University’ lawsuit

UPDATE: 9/7, 2:51 p.m. EST: Former President Bill Clinton weighed in on the Donald Trump-Pam Bondi donation scandal Wednesday at a campaign rally in Orlando, Fla., telling the crowd that the New York real estate mogul “attacked my foundation. . . . he uses his foundation’s money to pay off your attorney general, which is not legal.”

Clinton then went for the heart of Trump’s campaign message, “make American great again.”

“Saying you’re going to make America great again is like me saying I’d like to be 20 again,” he said. “Actually, I would. But I wouldn’t vote for anybody who promised to make me 20 again.”


According to a report by the Washington Post on Thursday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump paid a $2,500 IRS fine earlier in 2016 for making an illegal campaign contribution to a political organization supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s reelection campaign in 2013.

Liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a formal complaint with the IRS in March, pointing out that the donation was made by a registered non profit, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which are barred from making political donations.

In federal tax filings for 2013, the Trump Foundation failed to list the $25,000 donation to “Justice for All”, instead giving the name of a charity in Kansas with a similar name which Trump never contributed to.

Trump Organization senior vice president Jeffrey McConney said Thursday that Donald Trump filed the necessary paper work with IRS and paid a fine equal to 10 percent of the total contribution after being notified of the error.


Pam Bondi introduces Trump at a campaign rally at Tampa, Fla., in March (courtesy Gerald Herbert/AP)

In June, the Associated Press reported that Ms. Bondi had actually solicited the donation from the New York real estate mogul herself before deciding whether or not to bring fraud charges against Trump University.  After Justice for All received the donation, Bondi announced there was insufficient evidence to take legal action, despite over 20 complaints filed with the state attorney general’s office asking for refunds from the real estate education company.

The Trump Foundation was created in 1987 purportedly to donate proceeds from the Art of the Deal, but no personal contributions to the private charity have been made by Donald Trump himself since 1988.  As of December 2014, the Foundation only had a total of $1.3 million in its coffers.

While Trump Organization officials claim the political donation made to Bondi’s reelection group has been personally reimbursed by Trump, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics said Thursday that under IRS rules, the Foundation must try and get back the $125,000 donation from Justice for All.

The group’s treasurer, Nancy Watkins, said that she sent the money back to the Foundation during the spring in the form of a check, but it was refused.  Watkins claims she was told on the phone that, “Mr. Trump had reimbursed the foundation with a personal check. And that was the end of it.”


[Washington Post] [AP] [Politico] [Photo courtesy Mario Tama/Getty Images via The New Yorker]