Review of Trump Foundation’s IRS filings points to more possible violations

UPDATE – 9/20, 5:37 p.m. EST: The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that Donald Trump used his charitable foundation to pay-off plaintiffs in lawsuits filed against him in 2007 by the city of Palm Beach, Fla., and another by a golfer at one of Trump’s New York golf courses.

Total expenditures from the Donald J. Trump Foundation in those cases totaled $258,000, which could be in violation of “self-dealing” laws which prohibit non-profit organizations from making donations to benefit their proprietor(s). 

In both cases, plaintiffs settled for Trump donating money to charities of their choice.

Tax records obtained also show Trump used $5,000 in foundation money to advertise his hotel chain in 2013 and another $10,000 for a portrait of himself.

In 2012, Trump used $12,000 in charity funds to purchase a football helmet signed by former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.

If found in violation of “self-dealing”, Trump could be required by the IRS to pay fines or reimburse his foundation for money spent on the items in question.

 

In a series of tweets on Thursday, former Rolling Stone editor Rob Tannenbaum commented on his findings from a review of the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s IRS Form 990-PF filings from 2013 and 2014, which lists donations to and from a private U.S. charity with tax-exempt status, as well as assets, trustees and officers.

The largest donation Trump’s charity made in 2014 was $100,000 to the Citizens United Foundation, a conservative, non-profit whose president and chairman since 2000, David Bossie, was hired as the Republican presidential nominee’s deputy campaign manager earlier in September.

In January 2008, Citizens United produced the now infamous “Hillary: The Movie”, set for release before primary season, which led to the Citizens United v. FEC case.  In their decision, the Supreme Court held that a provision in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act prohibiting corporations and unions from financing political advertisements and advocacy groups violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The charity also donated $10,000 to the New York Jets Foundation in 2014. The NFL team’s owner, Woody Johnson, is a billionaire Republican donor who has been raising money for the Trump campaign since May.  IRS rules state that money donated to a charitable foundation cannot be claimed as a tax deduction if the gift ultimately benefits the giver.

A third red-flag is raised with the disclosure of a $435,832 donation to the Trump Foundation from one Richard Ebers in 2013. Ebers, dubbed by the New York Times as “The Ticket Man”, is a New York-based premium seat ticket broker for headline events.  Since 2011, Ebers has donated a total of $1.8 million to Trump’s charity.

Lastly, the Foundation’s 2014 IRS tax return lists five board members — Donald J. Trump, sons Donald Jr. and Eric, daughter Ivanka and Alan Weisselberg — each of whom spend 30 minutes per week doing work for the charity, and are officially not compensated with a salary.

Trump’s foundation has been under investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s office since June for a series of possibly illegal transactions, including a $25,000 donation to an organization supporting the reelection of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and a $20,000 expenditure for a life-size portrait of Trump himself.

In an interview with Donald J. Trump Foundation board member Donald Trump Jr. on Wednesday, WTAE Pittsburgh Action News 4 reporter Bob Mayo asked if he had authorized the portrait expenditure, Trump Jr. denied any knowledge of the matter.

Mayo was promptly cut-off from the interview by an off-camera handler after asking a follow-up question.

 

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