New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed that his office has opened an investigation into Donald Trump‘s charity foundation “to make sure it’s complying with the laws governing charities in New York.”
“My interest in this issue really is in my capacity as regulator of nonprofits in New York state. And we have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety from that point of view,” Schneiderman told Jake Tapper on CNN’s The Lead late Tuesday. “And we’ve inquired into it, and we’ve had correspondence with them. I didn’t make a big deal out of it or hold a press conference. We have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it’s complying with the laws governing charities in New York.”
The investigation comes as a series of reports by the Associated Press and The Washington Post have raised questions about Trump’s charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation. In a story published over the weekend, the Post reported that Trump had not donated to his own foundation since 2008 and alleged that he “spent $20,000 of money earmarked for charitable purposes by buying a 6-foot-tall painting of himself.”
The Trump Foundation was fined $2,500 by the IRS earlier this month for making an illegal donation of $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013, who at the time was considering opening an investigation into allegations against Trump University. Bondi dropped the case but Schneiderman later filed a fraud lawsuit against Trump University in August 2013. Both Trump and Bondi have denied any wrongdoing.
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Jason Miller, a senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign, released a statement calling Schneiderman, a Democrat who supports Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, “a partisan hack who has turned a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation for years and has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
“This is nothing more than another left-wing hit job designed to distract from Crooked Hillary Clinton’s disastrous week,” Miller said.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama criticized Trump and his foundation while campaigning for Clinton at a rally in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Referencing criticism the Clintons have faced over the Clinton Foundation, Obama said, “You want to debate foundations and charities? One candidate’s family foundation has saved countless lives around the world.”
“The other candidate’s foundation took money other people gave to his charity and then bought a 6-foot-tall painting of himself. I mean, he had the taste not to go for the 10 foot version,” Obama added to laughs.