Accusing President Donald Trump of using his foundation as to illegally funnel help to his campaign for President before the Iowa Caucus in 2016, the state of New York filed a lawsuit Thursday against Mr. Trump, his children, and the Trump Foundation, charging the group was used to illegally raise money for his bid for the White House.
“Mr. Trump’s wrongful use of the Foundation to benefit his Campaign was willful and knowing,” the lawsuit states.
The suit, by acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, said the Trump Foundation acted as nothing “more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality.”
“Despite his knowledge of the prohibition on political activity and on using the Foundation’s assets for his own benefit, Mr. Trump nevertheless used the Foundation to intervene in the election to assist him,” the lawsuit added, focusing on a fundraiser for veterans that the President held, as he boycotted a GOP debate in Des Moines, Iowa, in late January of 2016.
In a defiant response on Twitter, the President denied wrongdoing, and said the lawsuit was nothing but the culmination of long standing political attacks from New York Democrats.
As the President noted, the lawsuit was about much more than fundraising before the 2016 Iowa Caucus, as it goes through a series of financial transactions in the years before Mr. Trump became a candidate for President.
For example, the lawsuit raises questions about a $25,000 contribution made in September 2013 to the group, “And Justice for All,” which had been set up to back the re-election bid of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“Private foundations such as the (Trump) Foundation are prohibited under the Code from making political contributions,” the lawsuit states, adding that the Trump Foundation did not declare any political activity on its 2013 tax return.
“Instead, it listed a $25,000 contribution to a Kansas-based Section 501(c)(3) organization with a similar name, Justice for all,” the lawsuit read. But the New York suit charges no such contribution was made.
Other payments made by the Trump Foundation which were targeted by this lawsuit went back as far as 2007 involving legal claims against Mr. Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago retreat, and a suit against the Trump National Golf Club in 2012.
The Attorney General’s office in New York said it had sent referrals to both the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission in Washington, ‘identifying possible violations of federal law for further investigation and legal action by those federal agencies.’