NY AG Sends Trump Charity Cease And Desist Letter For Fundraising Violation

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks with members of the press, Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, aboard his campaign plane, while flying over Ohio. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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The New York Attorney General’s office sent the Donald Trump Foundation a cease and desist letter Friday pointing to its apparent solicitation of outside contributions without being properly registered to do so.

In a comment to NBC News, which first broke news of the letter, the Trump campaign cited what it alleged were the “political motives” of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) in pursing the investigation, while adding that the charity plans to cooperate.

The letter — sent by James Sheehan, head of the attorney general’s charities bureau — orders the Trump Foundation to stop “soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fundraising activities in New York.” A Washington Post report published Thursday evening highlighted that the Trump Foundation had taken in outside money in recent years even though it had not taken the steps to register to do so, as is required by state law.

Tax returns from 2014 and earlier showed that the Trump Foundation had not been registered as a “7-A” charity, a certification that is required by New York state law for charities that solicit outside donations. Trump himself has not donated personally to the charity since 2008, according to its tax records, and the coffers of the private foundation have been filled by third party contributors. Thursday’s report in the Washington Post surfaced a number of examples of when the Trump Foundation explicitly solicited outside donations, including at a veterans fundraising event the presidential candidate hosted as counter-programming to a GOP primary debate he boycotted.

The Attorney General’s letter gives the Trump Foundation 15 days to provide the agency with the information about its fundraising activities required by state law, and to refile the appropriate forms.

“The failure immediately to discontinue solicitation and to file information and reports required under Article 7-A with the Charities Bureau shall be deemed to be a continuing fraud upon the people of the state of New York,” the letter said.

The certification issue is just one of a number of concerns raised about the Trump Foundation’s practices. The Washington Post also has reported on instances of self-dealing, in which the charity’s money was used to the personal benefit of Trump. The transactions appeared to be a violation of both IRS code and state law.

Had the Trump Foundation been properly registered with New York to solicit contributions, it would have been subjected to an annual independent audit by an outside accountant. Such an audit may have caught the self-dealing and other alleged improper activities, charity law experts told the Washington Post.

Read the full letter below:

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