Tuesday, September 13, 2016

New York Attorney General to Investigate Donald Trump’s Nonprofit




Pam Bondi, the Florida attorney general who supported Donald J. Trump for president, addressed the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

New York’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, announced Tuesday that his office was looking into Donald J. Trump’s nonprofit foundation, which is facing intense criticism in light of a political donation it made in support of the Florida attorney general.
Mr. Schneiderman said his office was seeking to determine whether the charity had been in compliance with state laws. Mr. Trump’s campaign disclosed this month that he had paid a $2,500 penalty to the Internal Revenue Service because the 2013 contribution in Florida was sent from his nonprofit foundation, in violation of tax regulations.
Mr. Schneiderman did not give specifics of the extent of his office’s investigation but told CNN, “We have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some improprieties.”
Jason Miller, a senior aide in the Trump campaign, dismissed the inquiry. “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is a partisan hack who has turned a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation for years and has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president,” he said.
As the attorney general, Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat and supporter of Mr. Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, regulates nonprofit groups through his charities bureau. For Mr. Trump, he is a familiar opponent.
Three years ago, Mr. Schneiderman sued Mr. Trump and Trump University, his for-profit educational company, saying that students had been defrauded out of thousands of dollars with false promises about what they would learn. That case is pending, and Mr. Trump has denied the claims.
Mr. Trump, who contributed $12,500 to Mr. Schneiderman’s campaign in 2010, filed an ethics complaint against him after the Trump University suit was filed, calling the fraud case a “shakedown.” The state ethics panel declined to pursue the case.
Mr. Schneiderman’s office, in response to reporters’ requests for public records, also made public its correspondence with representatives for Mr. Trump, which largely pertained to the foundation’s $25,000 donation to a political committee supporting Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida.
Earlier on Tuesday, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee called on the United States attorney general, Loretta Lynch, to investigate the contribution in support of Ms. Bondi, saying it “may have influenced” her decision not to pursue a complaint against Trump University.
Democrats are trying to seize on the 2013 donation in Florida to raise ethical doubts about the Republican nominee in the final stretch of the presidential campaign.
Mr. Trump and Ms. Bondi, a Republican who is supporting his presidential bid, have denied that there was any connection between the donation to a political group supporting her and the eventual decision not to pursue an investigation into Trump University. Ms. Bondi’s office said that lower level staff members concluded that there was no justification to proceed, and that it did not rise to Ms. Bondi’s level.
The letter to Ms. Lynch was written by Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and also signed by the 15 other Democrats on the committee. The letter said it was possible that “a number of criminal statutes appear to be implicated by this course of conduct,” including bribery.
Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, called the bribery allegation a “totally ridiculous.”


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