New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood announced (on December 18, 2018) that the Trump Foundation has signed a stipulation agreeing to dissolve under judicial supervision.
New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood released the following statement in a press release:
“Our petition detailed a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more. This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”
The stipulation was petitioned by New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood against Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric F. Trump, and the Donald J. Trump Foundation. The stipulation order needs to be signed by Justice Saliann Scarpulla, a Justice for the New York County Supreme Court, Civil Term, in the 1st Judicial District of New York. She previously ruled that this case, filed by the New York Attorney General against the Trump Foundation, could proceed.
The New York Times reported (in June of 2018) information about the Trump Foundation. It was established by Donald J. Trump in 1987. The stated mission was “exclusively for charitable, religious, scientific, literary or educational purposes”, either by directly or by donating to other organizations. It was a private, nonprofit corporation.
Donald J. Trump served as president of the Trump Foundation from its start until January 23, 2017, (three days after he was inaugurated as president of the United States). Ivanka Trump also stepped down from her position on the Trump Foundation’s board of directors. Both Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump remained members of the board.
The stipulation requires the following:
- The Trump Foundation should be dissolved, annulling its Certificate of Corporation and terminating corporate existence of the Foundation.
- The dissolution process will proceed under judicial supervision.
- Within 30 days of when the stipulation is ordered by the Court, the parties must jointly submit to the Court a list of non-for-profit organizations to receive distributions, in equal amounts, from the assets remaining upon the issuance of a final Order of Dissolution.
- The parties agree that the Attorney General may object to the distribution of funds to any organization designated if information is revealed after the stipulation is ordered that negatively affects the suitability of such organizations to receive distributions of charitable assets in this manner.
- The Trump Foundation will maintain all of its assets as of the execution of the stipulation. (In other words, it is not allowed to suddenly start selling off assets.)
It is worth pointing out that there is also an ongoing lawsuit against the Trump Foundation that seeks millions in restitution and penalties. That lawsuit was announced by Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood (on June 14, 2018).
That lawsuit seeks to require the Trump Foundation to dissolve. (That goal will be reached when Justice Saliann Scarpulla signs the stipulation.)
In addition, it seeks to obtain restitution of $2.8 million and additional penalties. It seeks a ban from future service as a director, officer, or trustee, of a New York not-for-profit for 10 years for Donald J. Trump and one year for each of the Trump Foundations other board members: Donald J. Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump. (That goal will also be reached when Justice Saliann Scarpulla signs the stipulation.)
The website about the lawsuit provides details about things the Attorney General’s investigation found that the Trump Foundation did (and should not have done).
“The Attorney General’s investigation found that Trump Foundation raised in excess of $2.8 million in a manner designed to influence the 2016 presidential election at the direction and under the control of senior leadership of the Trump presidential campaign. The Foundation raised the funds from the public at the nationally televised fundraiser Mr. Trump held in lieu of participating in the presidential primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 28, 2016. In violation of state and federal law, senior Trump campaign staff, including Campaign Manager Cory Lewandowski, dictated the timing, amounts, and recipients of grants by the Foundation to non-profits, as evidenced by communications between Campaign staff and Foundation representatives”
“The Trump Foundation also entered into at least five self-dealing transactions that were unlawful because they benefited Mr. Trump or businesses he controls. These include a $100,000 payment to settle legal claims against Mr. Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort; a $158,000 payment to settle legal claims against his Trump National Golf Club in 2008 from a hole-in-one tournament; and a $10,000 payment at a charity action to purchase a painting of Mr. Trump that was displayed at the Trump National Doral in Miami. Following commencement of the Attorney General’s investigation, the Foundation paid excise taxes on three of the transactions and Mr. Trump restored funds for the transactions to the Foundation, but the Foundation has not paid excise taxes on the Mar-A-Lago or Trump National Golf Club transactions.”
“As described in the Attorney General’s petition, none of the Foundation’s expenditures or activities were approved by its Board of Directors. The investigation found that the Board existed in name only; it did not meet after 1999; it did not set policy or criteria for choosing grant recipients; and it did not approve of any grants. Mr. Trump alone made all decisions related to the Foundation.”
NPR reported (on December 18, 2018) that in late 2016, Donald J. Trump said he wanted to dissolve the Trump Foundation, but was prevented by then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as the investigation into the Trump Foundation continued.
In the same article, NPR reported: “In its most recent available filing with the IRS, in 2016 the foundation reported $2,929,274 in revenue and $3,075,269 in expenses. Most of the foundation’s donations that year went to veteran’s groups, following a campaign promise made by Trump while campaigning. The foundation also donated $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, according to CREW, in an apparent effort to dissuade her from investigating Trump University, another now-shuttered Trump venture.”
The Hill reported (on December 18, 2018) that part of the dissolution agreement requires the Trump Foundation to sell off its remaining assets. This includes a Tim Tebow-signed Denver Broncos football helmet and two paintings of Donald J. Trump. The reported value of the three items is $975, according to a recent filing with the IRS. The Hill reported that Donald J. Trump reportedly paid $12,000 for the Tebow-signed helmet and a combined $30,000 for the two portraits.
CNBC posted a quote from an article written by David Fahrenthold on The Washington Post:
“The largest donation in the foundation’s history — a $264,231 gift to the Central Park Conservancy in 1989 — appeared to benefit Trump’s business: It paid to restore a fountain outside Trump’s Plaza Hotel. The smallest, a $7 foundation gift to the Boy Scouts that same year, appeared to benefit Trump’s family. It matched the amount required to enroll a boy in the Scouts the year that his son Donald J. Trump Jr. was 11.”