Donald Trump

Donald Trump is accused of using his charitable foundation as a personal and political slush fund. (Photo: Getty)

Donald J. Trump, daughter Ivanka and sons Donald Jr. and Eric Trump have been named in a lawsuit filed by New York State for using the Trump Foundation as a personal and political slush fund in what the state called “persistent illegal conduct.”

The suit, filed today (June 14) alleges the illegal conduct occurred over more than a decade involving “extensive unlawful political coordination” with the Trump presidential campaign.

“As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” said Attorney General Barbara Underwood in a statement.

“This is not how private foundations should function and my office intends to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.”

The actions included repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Trump’s personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations, according to New York Attorney General’s Office.

The suit seeks to disolve the charitable group, known formally as the Donald J. Trump Foundation and to bar Trump and his family-member defendants from serving on the boards of all other New York state charities. The suit also demands $2.8 million in restitution.

Trump, Family Accused of 'Persistent Illegal Conduct' Running Trump Foundation 1

Trump Foundation charitable contributions in Iowa were timed to coincide with the all-important Iowa Caucuses, lawsuit claims. (Photo: NYAG)

The ban on charity work would run for 10 years for President Trump and one year each for Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric.

The stunning legal case is the result of a 21-month investigation begun by former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned over sexual misconduct allegations in May. The suit was announced on Trump’s 72nd birthday.

The president reacted immediately and angrily on Twitter, blaming the investigation and law suit on Democratic politics in New York State.

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An email shows Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski trying to tee-up charitable donations. (Photo: NYAG)

The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!…” he wrote.

To the contrary, the suit charges that Trump and family members used the charitable foundation as a virtual piggy bank for their own personal needs. They include “using
charitable assets to pay off his legal obligations, to promote Trump hotels and other businesses, and to purchase personal items,” according to the AG’s office.

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Donald Trump personally authorized an allegedly illegal $100,000 payment by the foundation. (Photo: NYAG)

“In addition, at Mr. Trump’s behest, the Trump Foundation illegally provided extensive support to his 2016 presidential campaign by using the Trump Foundation’s name and funds it raised from the public to promote his campaign for presidency, including in the days before the Iowa nominating caucuses,” the AG’s office charges.
Trump campaign staff, including Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski, dictated the timing, amounts and recipients of grants by the Foundation to non-profits, as evidenced by communications between Campaign staff and Foundation representatives–a violation of state and federal law.

At least five $100,000 grants were made to groups in Iowa in the days immediately before the February 1, 2016 Iowa caucuses, the AG’s office states.

The Trump Foundation also entered into at least five self-dealing transactions that were unlawful because they benefited Mr. Trump or businesses he controls,” the AG’s statement continues.

Click Here to Read the Lawsuit

“These include a $100,000 payment to settle legal claims against Mr. Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort; a $158,000 payment to settle legal claims against his Trump National Golf Club in 2008 from a hole-in-one tournament; and a $10,000 payment at a charity auction to purchase a painting of Mr. Trump that was displayed at the Trump National Doral in Miami.”

Even more damning for the President, the lawsuit states that he personally made all of the foundation’s spending decisions without consulting the board of directors. In fact, the board existed in name only, the investigation found. It stopped meeting in 1999.

Trump and his family’s troubles don’t end there. The Attorney General’s office has sent referral letters to the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service, which likely will prompt additional investigations, including for tax evasion.

Trump has vowed to fight the charges.

He made a similar assertion when he was sued for fraud by the state over his defunct Trump University. The president settled the case shortly before taking office for $25 million.

Two years ago, Trump’s charity foundation was ordered to cease all fundraising and spending in New York for violating state laws that require it to register with a state agency and file annual financial reports and audited statements, according to authorities.

The case is being handled by Matthew Colangelo, Executive Deputy Attorney General, James Sheehan, Chief of the Charities Bureau, Laura Wood, Senior Advisor and Special Counsel, Assistant Attorney General Yael Fuchs, Co-Chief of the Enforcement Section of the Charities Bureau, and Assistant Attorneys General Steven Shiffman and Peggy Farber of the Charities Bureau.

This matter is being overseen by Chief Deputy Alvin Bragg and Chief of Staff and Deputy Attorney General Brian Mahanna.