Tags: Donald Trump | trump | foundation | dissolved | avoid | conflict | interest

Trump to Dissolve Foundation to Avoid Possible Conflicts

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By    |   Saturday, 24 Dec 2016 04:31 PM

President-elect Donald Trump said Saturday that he would dissolve the Trump Foundation before taking office next month "to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as president."

"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," Trump said.

"However, to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as president, I have decided to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways."

Trump, who takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, said that he directed his lawyers to "take the necessary steps to effectuate the dissolution."

No further timetable was disclosed — and a Trump spokeswoman told The Washington Post that no additional information was available on how any remaining funds might be disbursed.

The organization, established in 1988 as the Donald J. Trump Foundation, listed assets of $1.2 million, expenses of $943,321 and contributions of $783,992 on its 2015 federal tax return.

The year before, the Trump Foundation also listed $1.2 million in assets but had $596,700 in expenses, according to PolitiFact.

"I am very proud of the money that has been raised for many organizations in need," Trump said Saturday, "and I am also very proud of the fact that the foundation has operated at essentially no cost for decades, with 100 percent of the money going to charity.

"But because 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."

The Trump Foundation has been fined for making political contributions — and officials have admitted to engaging in efforts to benefit Trump, his family and his varied businesses.

In October, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ordered the foundation to immediately stop soliciting donations in the state.

Schneiderman, a Democrat, issued a "notice of violation" against the foundation because it was raising funds without being registered.

The New York Times reported the previous month that Trump's entity was not listed on charity registers in many states.

The Associated Press disclosed that Schneiderman had been investigating the foundation since June, when his office formally questioned a donation made to a group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

While the Trump campaign questioned "the political motives" behind Schneiderman's efforts, officials pledged to cooperate with the inquiry.

The Washington Post also reported in September that the foundation lacked the required documentation to solicit money in New York.

However, a Schneiderman spokeswoman said on Twitter that the Trump Foundation "cannot legally dissolve" until the attorney general’s investigation is completed:

Last month, the Trump Foundation admitted in its 2015 filing to the IRS that it had violated the law against "self-dealing." It bars a charity's officials from using any money raised to help themselves, the Post reports.

The tax filing had been posted by the nonprofit-tracking site GuideStar.

A GuideStar spokesman told the Post that the Trump Foundation's law firm — Morgan, Lewis & Bockius — had uploaded the filing to the site.

On the form, the Internal Revenue Service asked whether the Trump Foundation had transferred "income or assets to a disqualified person."

Under IRS regulations, a "disqualified person" could include Trump, a member of his family or any of the businesses he owned.

The foundation checked "yes," the Post reports.

The form later asked whether the foundation had been involved in any self-dealing actions in previous years.

The Trump Foundation's answer was also "yes," according to the report.

Penalties for such violations include excise taxes — and foundation leaders could be required to repay the funds spent on their behalf.

In addition, Real Clear Politics reported in October that Trump donated at least $286,000 to conservative or policy groups between 2011 and 2014 — most likely as he was launching his presidential run.

The contributions corresponded to speaking engagements and endorsements in which Trump cast himself as a potential White House candidate, according to the analysis.

If the contributions solely benefitted Trump, they also might have violated the IRS self-dealing regulations.

"He was politically active starting in 2011," a person with close ties to Trump told Real Clear Politics. He began making "strategic donations" then.

Trump personally donated the money to campaigns and political parties, but those sent to the nonprofit operations of conservative policy groups were made through the foundation.

"If he could do 501(c)(3) to 501(c)(3), he did it that way," the source told Real Clear Politics, referring to the IRS classification for nonprofits.

Trump's Saturday announcement came a day after he took to Twitter to charge that it was a "ridiculous shame" that his son, Eric, would have to stop soliciting funds for his own charitable foundation, the Eric Trump Foundation, because of a conflict-of-interest:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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President-elect Donald Trump said Saturday that he was dissolving the Trump Foundation to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as president. The foundation has done enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless...
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2016-31-24
Saturday, 24 Dec 2016 04:31 PM
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