Donald Trump’s shady “charitable” foundation may be forced to repay millions in illegal donations and cease soliciting money after new revelations. The Washington Post reports that Trump’s “charity,” which allows Trump to use Other People’s Money (a fact that makes The Donald very proud) rather than his own to purchase gigantic paintings of himself and bribe public officials, never obtained the proper certification required by the state of New York to solicit money from the public. This isn’t speculation – the information is straight from the state’s attorney general’s office. The Post reports that Trump may be in some serious trouble, as most if not all of his donations could be illegal:
Under the laws in New York, where the Donald J. Trump Foundation is based, any charity that solicits more than $25,000 a year from the public must obtain a special kind of registration beforehand. Charities as large as Trump’s must also submit to a rigorous annual audit that asks — among other things — whether the charity spent any money for the personal benefit of its officers.
If New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) finds that Trump’s foundation raised money in violation of the law, he could order the charity to stop raising money immediately. With a court’s permission, Schneiderman could also force Trump to return money that his foundation has already raised.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
After reports surfaced of Trump using his charity’s money to buy himself lavish gifts and even using donor money to bribe a public official, Schneiderman launched an investigation into the Trump Foundation – though he has not yet commented if his office will be investigating the lack of registration.
According to the Post, Trump did indeed solicit more than $25,000 from donors in each of the past 10 years for which there are records, and there is strong evidence that they qualify as solicitations under New York law – “For instance, the foundation has received more than $2.3 million from companies that owed money to Trump or one of his businesses — but that were instructed to pay the foundation instead, according to people familiar with those transactions.”
And, of course, there was that time the Trump Foundation set up a website begging for donations that were supposed to go to veterans – though there is little to no evidence that the money he raised actually went to worthwhile causes.
So what’s wrong, exactly? The Post explains:
Under state law, charities that solicit donations from others in New York must register under a different law, called “7A” for its article heading.
In that law, the definitions of “solicit” and “in New York” are both broad. Solicit means “to directly or indirectly make a request for a contribution, whether express or implied, through any medium.” The requirement covers any solicitation that happened in New York or involved a donor who was in New York when somebody called them and asked.
“The only thing it wouldn’t cover is somebody giving money without being asked,” said Pamela Mann, a former head of the New York State charities bureau, who is now in private practice at Carter Ledyard & Milburn. “The law says that soliciting from the public in New York, without being registered to do so, is an illegal act.”
Will this be enough to end his campaign? Probably not – but it’s going to be fun watching Hillary Clinton hold a blowtorch to his balls over it.
Featured image via screengrab/Getty Images (Spencer Platt)