December 24-27, 2016
Donald Trump Announces Intention to Dissolve Charitable Foundation (and gets caught lying about his charitable foundation.)
Donald Trump announced Saturday that he would dissolve his namesake foundation to avoid any potential conflict of interest during his time as president.
The plan may quickly run into a snag, however.
“The Trump Foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete,” New York Attorney General spokesperson Amy Spitalnick said in a statement released Saturday.
Trump has not donated to the foundation since 2008 but it has received tens of millions of dollars over the past 10 years.
Trump’s foundation came under scrutiny during the election over how its funds were used, with money going toward settling legal disputes among Trump’s business empire. Some charity experts consider this act unethical and it could violate federal tax law.
Donald Trump is eager to talk about the end of his scandal-plagued foundation, arguing on Twitter that “all” of the money it raised was “given to charity.” He added soon after that “100%” of the millions raised went to “wonderful charities.”
We know Trump’s lying, in part because the Trump Foundation has already admitted that some of its money covered non-charitable expenses.
Trump used $20,000 of the foundation’s money to buy a six-foot portrait of himself, which may also violate federal tax law.
Documents first reported by the Washington Post and later reviewed by NBC News showed that Trump had used $258,000 to settle two separate lawsuits. One lawsuit was with the town of Palm Beach over the height of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago flagpole.
The Trump Foundation became embroiled in an additional controversy and was fined by the IRS for donating $25,000 to a political organization connected to Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi.
Pam Bondi is now a member of Trump’s transition, but at the time her office was considering investigating Trump University for fraud, which raised another instance for Donald Trump about a potential conflict of interest.
Bondi’s office did not open an investigation.
A month ago, the Trump Foundation admitted in official documents that “it violated a legal prohibition against ‘self-dealing,’ which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity’s money to help themselves, their businesses or their families.” The materials, filed with the IRS, were signed by Trump himself – so it’s not as if he can credibly claim he had no idea what was going on.
In other words, when Trump boasted that “100%” of the money raised by his foundation went to “wonderful charities,” it was one of Donald Trump’s more obvious lies.