The New York attorney general has filed suit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation, alleging, among other things, that he and his family used it to pay for everything from redecorating a resort to paying for presidential campaign events.
In the suit, Attorney General Barbara Underwood asked a state judge to dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation. She asked that its remaining $1 million in assets be distributed to other charities and that Trump be forced to pay at least $2.8 million in restitution and penalties.
Underwood also asked that Trump be banned from leading any other New York nonprofit organization for 10 years — seeking to apply a penalty usually reserved for the operators of small-time charity frauds to the president of the United States.
Although Donald Trump’s name is on the foundation, in recent years most of its money was not actually his. Trump did not donate any money to the foundation between 2008 and 2015. Instead, its largest benefactors in recent years have been wrestling moguls Vince and Linda McMahon, who gave $5 million total in 2007 and 2009. Linda McMahon was later appointed by Trump to be head of the Small Business Administration.
Behind the scenes, Underwood said, the foundation was essentially one of Trump’s personal piggy banks — a pool of money that his accounting clerks knew to use whenever Trump wanted to pay a nonprofit organization. By law, Trump wasn’t allowed to buy things for himself using the charity’s money, even if he was buying them from nonprofit groups.
Trump could have avoided all this trouble and been shielded from the regulators if he had set himself up as a megachurch.