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Ruddy: The Trump Foundation and Its Enemies

Image: Ruddy: The Trump Foundation and Its Enemies
In this May 15, 2018 file photo, Barbara Underwood speaks to legislative leaders in Albany, N.Y., interviewing her for the office of New York Attorney General to replace Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who resigned amid domestic abuse allegations. (AP Photo/Hans Pennick, File)

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Thursday, 28 June 2018 12:05 PM Current | Bio | Archive

The recent New York State Attorney General’s legal action against the Donald J. Trump Foundation sparked my interest.

In the years I have known the president, one thing about him is true: he’s quite generous and charitable.

Iain Calder, the long-time editor of the National Enquirer told me the story that in the 1980s, when the paper did a story about Trump’s quiet charitable giving, the rising billionaire called him to complain.

For the Sinatra generation, publicity about your charity was not a good thing.

Through the years I have heard stories of Trump’s personal charity, much of it taking place outside of his Foundation and almost never making news.

For instance, it was not uncommon that when a New York police officer was killed on duty, Donald Trump was quickly writing a check to his family.

Trump never told me this. But friends from the NYPD have.

Still, the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” seems to apply to our president.

After New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned in May when allegations surfaced he physically abused women, his successor, Attorney General Barbara Underwood, accused the Trump Foundation of "persistent illegal conduct" that took place over a period of more than 10 years.

The president and his three eldest children are also named as defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks $2.8 million in restitution plus penalties.

Trump immediately announced that he would fight and not settle.

Trump tweeted that he found it odd that a charitable organization that “took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000,” would find itself a defendant to a lawsuit.

Since Trump seriously began running for president, he has been a target of the New York AG’s office.

Though Schneiderman spent years digging for dirt without success, the new attorney general, after barely a month in office, uncovered this “pattern of illegal conduct.”

The timing of the New York AG’s legal action also sets in motion a trial date just before this November’s Congressional elections. (How convenient!)

When the Trump Foundation lawyer pointed this out in a recent court hearing, and asked the case be delayed for that reason (quite reasonable, in my view), the Judge didn’t bother to hide her partisanship.

“Judge Scarpulla laughed in response [to the Trump request], did not change the trial date, and hinted that she is likely to require the president to testify,” the New Yorker reported.

Political? You betcha.

So what’s the deal with the Trump Foundation?

Without having conducted a forensic review, the allegations seems to be the legal version of Fake News.

Although the Donald J. Trump Foundation accepts funding from outside donors, as a private, non-operating foundation, it’s primarily a vehicle to distribute grants from Donald Trump and his family.

A glance at its IRS form 990 filings reflects this. The foundation pays no salaries and its total expenditures each year are at zero or nearly so. Its charitable distributions each year are at or near 100 percent of what it takes in.

This is highly unusual. We have all read stories of celebrities who “pad” their foundations with salaries for family and hangers-on. Foundation funds are often used as a personal slush fund.

This has never been the case with the Trump Foundation.

The State’s case is largely based on nonsense.

They note that since 2009 the Trump Foundation received little money from Trump himself but instead donations from friends and business partners.

So what?

If Trump was offered money and suggested the other party donate to his Foundation instead — so money could be distributed directly to charities — why is this bad?

Another allegation is that the Foundation made donations to some charities that paid for facilities at Trump golf clubs, hotels, or Mar-a-Lago.

The State implies the donations were used as an inducement for business.

Typically such donations were $5,000 to $10,000. Hardly an amount that could be considered a “bribe” to get a charity to spend $250,000 or more at one of his properties.

And considering the sheer number of groups using Trump properties, those who received donations were just a tiny fraction. Hardly a pattern of misconduct here!

So much of the State’s complaint is just fraught with manufactured conclusions, including one that Trump used the Foundation to buy votes.

That one sounds a little like the Trump-Russian collusion claim.

But, hey, there’s no evidence for that either.

Christopher Ruddy is CEO of Newsmax Media, Inc., one of the country's leading conservative news outlets. Read more Christopher Ruddy Insider articles — Click Here Now.

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Ruddy
The recent New York State Attorney General’s legal action against the Donald J. Trump Foundation sparked my interest.
trump foundation, new york, attorney general
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2018-05-28
Thursday, 28 June 2018 12:05 PM
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