Trump says he will dissolve foundation amid NY investigation

The revelation comes as the New York attorney general's office investigates the Donald J. Trump Foundation

President-elect Donald Trump speaks during his meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump said Saturday he will dissolve his charitable foundation amid efforts to eliminate any conflicts of interest before he takes office next month.

The revelation comes as the New York attorney general’s office investigates the foundation following media reports that foundation spending went to benefit Trump’s campaign.

Trump said in a statement that he has directed his counsel to take the necessary steps to implement the dissolution of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, saying that it operated “at essentially no cost for decades, with 100 percent of the money going to charity.”

“The foundation has done enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups, including supporting veterans, law enforcement officers and children,” he said in a statement.

“I will be devoting so much time and energy to the presidency and solving the many problems facing our country and the world. I don’t want to allow good work to be associated with a possible conflict of interest,” he said.

Trump said he will pursue philanthropic efforts in other ways, bu didn’t elaborated on how he’d do so.

A 2015 tax return posted on the nonprofit monitoring website GuideStar shows the Donald J. Trump Foundation acknowledged that it used money or assets in violation of IRS regulations — not only during 2015, but in prior years.

Those regulations prohibit self-dealing by the charity. That’s broadly defined as using its money or assets to benefit Trump, his family, his companies or substantial contributors to the foundation.

The tax filing doesn’t provide details on the violations. Whether Trump benefited from the foundation’s spending has been the subject of an investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

In September, Schneiderman disclosed that his office has been investigating Trump’s charity to determine whether it has abided by state laws governing nonprofits.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press in September showed Schneiderman’s scrutiny of The Donald J. Trump Foundation dated back to at least June, when his office formally questioned the donation made by the charity to a group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Bondi personally solicited the money during a 2013 phone call that came after her office received complaints from former students claiming they were scammed by Trump University, Trump’s get-rich-quick real estate seminars.

The Trump Foundation check arrived just days after Bondi’s office told a newspaper it was reviewing a lawsuit against Trump University filed by Schneiderman. Bondi’s office never sued Trump, though she denies his donation played any role in that decision.

Trump later paid a $2,500 fine over the check from his foundation because it violated federal law barring charities from making political contributions.

Amy Spitalnick, press secretary for Schneiderman’s office, said Saturday that the foundation “cannot legally dissolve” until the investigation is complete.

The charitable foundation was ordered to immediately stop fundraising in New York just weeks before the general election, Schneiderman’s office saying it wasn’t registered to do so. The N.Y. attorney general’s office said in October the Trump Foundation had a registration for an organization with assets in New York, but the law requires a different registration for those that solicit more than $25,000 a year from the public. It complied with the order and stopped its fundraising activities.

Trump’s announcement to dissolve his own foundation came a day after the president-elect took to Twitter to declare it a “ridiculous shame” that his son Eric will have to stop soliciting funds for his charitable foundation, the Eric Trump Foundation, because of a conflict of interest.

“My wonderful son, Eric, will no longer be allowed to raise money for children with cancer because of a possible conflict of interest with my presidency,” Trump tweeted. “He loves these kids, has raised millions of dollars for them, and now must stop. Wrong answer!”

Trump was in his South Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Saturday, his retreat for most holidays. He spent the week meeting advisers and interviewing candidates for a handful of Cabinet positions that remain unfilled.

The president-elect also continued his criticism of a decision by the United Nations to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying Saturday that it “will make it much harder to negotiate peace.”

Trump took to Twitter a day after the U.N. Security Council vote on the settlements, saying that the decision is “too bad, but we will get it done anyway.”

He didn’t elaborate, but a move by the Obama administration to abstain from Friday’s U.N. vote brushes aside Trump’s demands that the U.S. exercise its veto and provided a climax to years of icy relations with Israel’s leadership.

___

Associated Press writer Karen Matthews in New York contributed to this report.

WKBN 27 First News provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. No links will be permitted. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s