New York AG informs Trump Foundation it may be violating multiple state laws

The New York Attorney General’s office on Friday sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, ordering the organization to stop accepting charitable contributions because of a failure to register with the state’s Charities Bureau, as required by law.

A state Attorney General office spokesman said the letter, made public Monday, was written after finding “a clear indication of wrongdoing,” on the part of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s non-profit group.

“The failure immediately to discontinue solicitation . . . shall be deemed to be a continuing fraud upon the people of the state of New York,” it read.

The letter also ordered Trump’s foundation to submit an application for registration with the state Bureau and hand over financial reports for years the charity sought donations by Oct. 15.

Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks issued a statement Monday in an effort to minimize the letter’s negative effect on the New York businessman’s deteriorating public image.

“While we remain very concerned about the political motives behind AG Schneiderman’s investigation, the Trump Foundation nevertheless intends to cooperate fully with the investigation,” the statement said.

Despite the attempt to deflect the importance of the investigation, legal experts say New York Attorney General’s action against Trump is standard practice given the circumstance of an unregistered charity.

Records shows that between 1987 and 2006, Donald Trump donated $5.4 million of his own money to the foundation and was the charities sole donor.  However, the real estate mogul has not given anything since 2008 and only $65,000 since 2007.

During the same period of time, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. founder and CEO Vince McMahon donated $5 million to the Donald J. Trump Foundation and NBCUniversal $500,000.  Both have declined to answer media questions about the reasons for the gifts.

The foundation has also created none of its own programs, but has donated to other nonprofits and regularly receives contributions from outside sources, which under New York state law requires registration.

According the the New York Attorney General’s office, the Trump Foundation has also never submitted independent audits of the charity’s tax records to state authorities, a further violation of the law.

 

[Reuters] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy Scott Olson/Getty Images via Slate]