New York Attorney General expands investigation of Donald Trump Foundation

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA - SEPTEMBER 06: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives at a campaign event September 6, 2016 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Trump participated in a discussion with retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Donald Trump took $100,000 out of his foundation and gave it to a political group trying to stop the re-election of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Bad news for Trump, it wasn’t enough.

The New York attorney general’s investigation of the Donald J. Trump Foundation appears to have broadened to include new allegations of self-dealing by Trump that surfaced after the probe began, TPM has learned.

The “self dealing” is primarily associated with how Donald Trump used foundation money to pay his own bills.

Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.

The self-dealing even included paying off a lawsuit Donald Trump acquired by trying tocheat someone at a charity golf tournament.

The investigation by the New York AG also includes looking into gifts Trump has purchased for himself using foundation funds, including a signed football helmet and at least two giant portraits of Trump.

Self-dealing — or the use of a charity’s money to the personal benefit of one of its operators — is a major no-no in charity world, and a violation of both state law in New York, where the Trump Foundation is registered, and IRS regulations, according to legal and tax experts.

All of this information has surfaced because of the relentless work by David Fahrenthold at the Washington Post, who has simply gone through the foundation’s books and checked the validity item by item.

The Trump campaign attacked Fahrenthold and the Washington Post, calling the reporting inaccurate and biased. However, Trump’s response included not a single example showing an error on Fahrenthold’s part, and further attempts to elicit specifics from Donald Trump, Junior Trump, or Trump’s campaign have all come up dry.

“The Trump campaign’s response to our reporting has been full of personal insults and devoid of any discussion of the facts,” senior politics editor Steven Ginsberg said in a statement. “We have reached out to the campaign repeatedly, by phone, email and on social media, and they have yet to answer our questions. We welcome a response that addresses the legitimate questions raised about the Trump Foundation.”

What does the IRS define as self dealing?

  • Sale or exchange or leasing of property
  • Lending of money or other extension of credit
  • Furnishing of goods, services or facilities
  • Payment or compensation
  • Transfer to, or use by or for the benefit of a disqualified person of the asset of a foundation

Paying off legal fees. Purchasing items “for the foundation” that are instead being used by Trump … Donald Trump has managed to tick just about every item on the list.

And that doesn’t even touch on the other ways Trump has misused his foundation, like using the foundation to avoid taxes and using it as a source of political payoffs. And all that is still in addition to the investigation Eric Schneiderman has underway of the Trump University fraud.

With all that on his plate, Schneiderman is likely to be busy dissecting Trump’s misdeeds for years. Years and years.

But if he was to hurry up at least a charge or two, America would appreciate it.

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