Shocking details emerge about Trump Foundation

December 30, 2018

Sir Walter Scott, the famed novelist (not to be confused with the Sunday Parade magazine gossip guy) has perfectly described President Trump’s family foundation.

For those out of the loop, it seems the Twitterer-In Chief — along with his sons Eric and Don Jr., and daughter Ivanka — were running a charitable piggy bank disguised as a charitable trust fund.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Barbara Underwood, New York State’s attorney general, Trump’s self-serving piggy bank is no more. By way of historical background, Trump and his family created the account in 1988 following the success of his book, “The Art of the Deal.”

The purpose was to support needy causes, even though he conveniently placed the foundation within the Trump Organization. No dedicated foundation staff or office space were ever created to oversee operations.

Quoting from Underwood’s investigation: “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.” Underwood added, “this amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”

New York state is seeking millions in restitution as well as permanently barring Trump’s three oldest children from ever serving on the boards of any other New York charitable foundation.

An examination of foundation records as outlined by Underwood show Trump contributed $5.5 million as late as 2015. Interestingly, outside contributions from donors with business relationships with Trump donated just over $9 million. Who donated the most money you might ask?

That honor belongs to World Wrestling Entertainment co-founders Vince and Linda McMahon. The couple donated $5 million, promptly followed by Linda McMahon being appointed to head the Small Business Administration.

The Underwood report reveals “a pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade, that includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump’s personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations.”

Timothy O’Brien, a highly respected executive editor of Bloomsberg Opinion, notes that Trump’s largest gift — $264,631 — went to renovate a fountain outside the iconic Plaza Hotel in downtown New York, a property owned by Trump.

Other expenditures included a $100,000 payment to clear up a lawsuit against his Mar-a-Lago retreat; another $158,000 payment to settle claims pursuant to a 2008 lawsuit at Trump National Golf Club.

As a topper, Trump also used foundation money to pay $10,000 to purchase a painting of himself. Finally, for good measure, Trump wrote out a check for $7 to the Boy Scouts of America — to cover Donald Jr.’s membership.

In another discovery, Underwood determined that Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer, told investigators he wasn’t even aware that the Trump clan had added him to the foundation’s board of directors. He also noted, the foundation’s board last met in 1999.

For a chief executive who cries “fake news” every time substantive negative facts about him and his activities are revealed, this is a major potential state and federal felony.

It is ironic that Trump and his mouthpieces (Rudy Giuliani) have found it convenient to attempt to distance the president from being charged with anything because, well, he’s the Chief Executive.

Is it “fake news” that currently, in addition to the Mueller probe (nearly 40 indictment/guilty pleas) there are investigations of the Trump Organization; Trump Foundation, the Trump family, the Trump campaign, the Trump presidential transition committee, the Trump inauguration, and the Trump White House.

“This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone,” Underwood stated. “We’ll continue to move our lawsuit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.”

Perhaps the next chant we hear might be “Lock THEM Up!

Mark Levine is the former director of Idaho State University’s Department of Marketing and Communications. He now resides in Florida and is the president and chief executive officer of Sunshine Associates consulting. His favorite avocation is helping to raise his two special needs granddaughters.

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