Trump foundation ordered to stop seeking donations in NY
04 October 2016
The office of New York attorney general Eric T Schneiderman has issued a ''notice of violation'' to Donald J Trump's foundation, ordering it to immediately stop soliciting charitable donations in the state.
The letter, which was sent on Friday and released on Monday morning by Schneiderman's office, said its charities bureau had determined that the Donald J Trump Foundation had been fund-raising in New York this year when it was not registered to do so under state law.
''The Trump Foundation must immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fund-raising activities in New York,'' wrote James Sheehan, the chief of the charities bureau.
Trump's foundation has come under increasing scrutiny amid questions about his fulfilment of large charitable pledges and his lack of financial support in recent years.
The foundation's compliance with the rules that govern nonprofit groups has also been a concern. The New York Times reported last month that Trump's foundation does not show up on the charity registers in many states, and The Washington Post subsequently reported that the foundation did not have the certification necessary to solicit money in New York.
''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,'' Hope Hicks, Trump's spokeswoman, said in a statement on Monday. ''Because this is an ongoing legal matter, the Trump Foundation will not comment further at this time.''
Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has previously deflected criticism about his charitable giving, saying that he makes contributions personally and that he has been supportive of his foundation.
Schneiderman's office is investigating Trump's foundation to determine if it is in compliance with state laws, including how it spends its money and courts donations. The attorney general's office was particularly interested in a fund-raiser held by Trump this year to benefit veterans in lieu of attending a Republican primary debate. The event raised $5.6 million, including some money from wealthy donors, and the Trump Foundation said $1.67 million had come from online donations. The foundation did not break down the sources by state.
Over the years, Trump has donated $5.4 million to his charity, according to the organization's tax filings. But the last of those contributions was in 2008, and in recent years, the foundation's coffers have been filled by outside donors - including organisations and people in New York. (The foundation's most recent available filing was for 2014.)
From 2009 to 2014, the foundation raised $4.36 million, with $2.5 million from New Yorkers, records show. State rules require nonprofits raising more than $25,000 a year in New York to register and file audited financial statements and annual financial reports to the attorney general's charities bureau.
In the letter, Schneiderman's office provided notice to Trump's foundation that it must provide those financial documents within 15 days. It also must file any ''delinquent reports'' for past years within that time frame.
''The failure immediately to discontinue solicitation and to file information and reports'' with the charities bureau, Sheehan said, ''shall be deemed a fraud upon the people of the state of New York.''
Schneiderman, a Democrat and a supporter of Trump's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, has also asserted in a separate pending case that Trump defrauded students who participated in Trump University, his for-profit educational programme.