Judge fines Trump $2 million for misusing charity foundation | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Judge fines Trump $2 million for misusing charity foundation

Associated Press
1917601_web1_1917601-6128f85a76a44fda8b8e08816899d17c
AP
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Monroe Civic Center in Monroe, La. A New York judge on Thursday, Nov. 7 ordered Trump to pay about $2 million to an array of charities to resolve a lawsuit alleging he misused his own charitable foundation to further his political and business interests.

NEW YORK — A judge Thursday ordered President Donald Trump to pay $2 million to an array of charities as a fine for misusing his own charitable foundation to further his political and business interests.

New York state Judge Saliann Scarpulla imposed the penalty after the president admitted to a series of abuses outlined in a lawsuit brought against him last year by the New York attorney general’s office.

Among other things, Trump acknowledged in a legal filing that he allowed his presidential campaign staff to coordinate with the Trump Foundation in holding a fundraiser for veterans during the run-up to the 2016 Iowa caucuses. The event was designed “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign,” Scarpulla said.

In a defiant statement issued Thursday evening, though, Trump suggested he was neither sorry nor in the wrong.

“I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity (19M), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State,” he wrote.

He assailed a series of Democratic attorneys general of New York who were involved with the suit, saying they should have spent their time investigating the Clinton Foundation.

“It has been 4 years of politically motivated harassment,” Trump said.

Trump’s foundation will be dissolved and its $1.7 million in remaining funds will be given to other nonprofits, under agreements reached by Trump’s lawyers and the attorney general’s office.

As part of those agreements , made public Thursday, the two sides left it up to the judge to decide what penalty Trump should pay.

The settlement was an about-face for Trump. He had tweeted, “I won’t settle this case!” when it was filed in June 2018.

Trump’s fine and the charity’s funds will be split evenly among eight organizations, including Citymeals on Wheels, the United Negro College Fund and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Attorney General Letitia James welcomed the resolution of the case as a “major victory in our efforts to protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain.”

“No one is above the law — not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the President of the United States,” said James, a Democrat.

The president admitted, among other things, to arranging for the charity to pay $10,000 for a 6-foot portrait of him. He also agreed to pay back $11,525 in foundation funds that he spent on sports memorabilia and champagne at a charity gala.

Trump also accepted restrictions on his involvement in other charitable organizations. His three eldest children, who were members of the foundation’s board, must undergo mandatory training on the duties of those who run charities.

Charities are barred from getting involved in political campaigns, but in weighing the Iowa fundraiser, Scarpulla gave Trump credit for making good on his pledge to give $2.8 million that his charity raised to veterans’ organizations.

Instead of fining him that amount, as the attorney general’s office wanted, the judge trimmed it to $2 million and rejected a demand for punitive damages and interest.

The Trump Foundation said it was pleased by those decisions, claiming that the judge “recognized that every penny ever raised by the Trump Foundation has gone to help those most in need.”

Trump Foundation lawyer Alan Futerfas said the nonprofit has distributed approximately $19 million over the past decade, including $8.25 million of the president’s own money, to hundreds of charitable organizations.

At the time of the Iowa fundraiser, Trump was feuding with then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and refusing to participate in the network’s final Republican presidential primary debate before the Iowa caucuses.

Instead, he held a rally at the same time as the debate at which he called on people to donate to veterans’ charities. The foundation acted as a pass-through for those contributions.

James said the evidence of banned coordination between campaign officials and the foundation included emails exchanged with then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

In one email, a Trump company vice president asked Lewandowski for guidance on precisely how to distribute the money raised.

Trump also admitted in the agreements to directing that $100,000 in foundation money be used to settle legal claims over an 80-foot flagpole he had built at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., instead of paying the expense out of his own pocket.

In addition, the foundation paid $158,000 to resolve a lawsuit over a prize for a hole-in-one contest at a Trump-owned golf course, and $5,000 for ads promoting Trump’s hotels in the programs for charitable events. Trump admitted these transactions were also improper.

As part of the settlement, Donald Trump Jr. reimbursed the Trump Foundation for the cost of the portrait.

Categories: News | Top Stories | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.