Trump charity under fire from New York state, federal authorities

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman admitted in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that the Department of Law’s Charity Bureau launched an investigation of the Donald J. Trump Foundation for possible violations of state law.

Specifically, Schneiderman’s office is inquiring about Trump’s $25,000 donation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s political group, “Justice for All”; $20,000 the foundation spent for a six-foot-tall portrait of Donald Trump himself; and reported donations from the Trump charity to four organizations that were claimed to have never been received.

“We’ve inquired into (the Trump Foundation) and we’ve had a correspondence with them. I didn’t make a big deal out of it or hold a press conference,” Schneiderman said. “My interest in this issue is in my capacity as a regulator of nonprofits in New York state. And we have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety from that point of view.”

A source with knowledge of the investigation told NBC News that the state attorney general’s office began correspondence with the Trump Foundation on June 9.

An elected Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, Schneiderman previously brought a $40 million fraud lawsuit against Trump in 2013 for his role in the for-profit education company, Trump University .

Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller fired back at Schneiderman later Tuesday, calling New York’s Attorney General a “partisan hack who has turned a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation for years.”

Miller went on to say the accusations are “nothing more than another left-wing hit job designed to distract” attention away from Hillary Clinton’s recent public-relations issues.

Schneiderman’s comments followed news that 16 Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch earlier on Tuesday, calling for a federal investigation of the Trump Foundation’s $25,000 donation to Pam Bondi.  The letter cites possible violations of federal tax and bribery laws.

Trump’s charity has also come under scrutiny after a Washington Post inquiry found that nearly $6 million the Republican nominee raised for veterans groups in January wasn’t actually received by the supposed beneficiaries until journalists started asking questions in May.

According to AP, “about half” of 30 veterans organizations Trump said he raised money for hadn’t been sent checks until the candidate’s interview with the Washington Post on May 24.

Campaigning in Philadelphia for Clinton on Tuesday, President Obama also weighed in on the Trump scandal.

“One candidate’s family foundation has saved countless lives around the world. The other candidate’s foundation took money other people gave to his charity and then bought a six-foot-tall portrait of himself,” Obama said, comparing the Clinton and Trump foundations.

 

[Reuters] [NBC News] [AP via Yahoo] [Photo courtesy Vice News]