The New York attorney general has notified Donald Trump that his charitable foundation is violating state law — by soliciting donations without proper certification — and ordered Trump’s charity to stop its fundraising immediately, the attorney general’s office said Monday.
James Sheehan, head of the attorney general’s charities bureau, sent the “notice of violation” to the Donald J. Trump Foundation on Friday, according to a copy of the notice provided by the press office of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D).
The night before that, The Washington Post reported that Trump’s charity had been soliciting donations from other people without being properly registered in New York state.
According to tax records, Trump’s foundation has subsisted entirely on donations from others since 2008, when Trump gave his last personal donation. This year, the Trump Foundation made its most wide-ranging request for donations yet: It set up a public website, donaldtrumpforvets.com, to gather donations that Trump said would be passed on to veterans’ groups.
But the Trump Foundation never registered under article 7A of New York’s Executive Law, as is required for any charity soliciting more than $25,000 a year from the public. One important consequence: Trump’s foundation avoided rigorous outside audits, which New York law requires of larger charities that ask the public for money.
The Washington Post's David A. Fahrenthold explains how Donald Trump directed people who owed him money to make their payments to the tax-exempt Donald J. Trump Foundation instead.
“The Trump Foundation must immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fundraising activities in New York,” Sheehan wrote to the foundation, of which Trump himself is still president. The Trump Foundation has no paid employees, and its board consists of Trump, three of his children and one Trump Organization employee. They all work one half-hour per week, according to the charity’s most recent IRS filings.
Schneiderman ordered the Trump Foundation to supply the state, within 15 days, with all the legal paperwork required of charities that solicit money from the public.
In addition, Sheehan ordered that Trump’s foundation provide all the financial audit reports it should have provided in prior years, when it raised money without legal permission. He said that if Trump’s foundation did not stop its fundraising and file the proper paperwork, that would be considered “a continuing fraud upon the people of New York.”
Trump’s campaign has not responded to The Post’s questions about the Trump Foundation’s registration in New York state. The campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Schneiderman’s order, sent early Monday afternoon.