On Monday, my colleague Jeremy Stahl wrote a post titled: “The Trump Foundation Is Just a Front for Trump to Pretend to Give to Charity.” That sounds about right. The Trump Foundation, as it were, has been the object of much speculation and various attempts at scrutiny—particularly by the Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold—but what have we learned? “Donald Trump’s charity is basically just a front for Trump to give away other people’s money in his own name, sometimes for causes that directly benefit Donald Trump,” Stahl writes. That certainly doesn’t make Donald Trump much of a philanthropist, but is it illegal? Or just unethical? On Tuesday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told CNN his office has launched an inquiry to find out.
“Trump’s foundation appears to have repeatedly broken IRS rules, which require nonprofit groups to file accurate paperwork,” the Post reports. “In five cases, the Trump Foundation told the IRS that it had given a gift to a charity whose leaders told The Post that they had never received it. In two other cases, companies listed as donors to the Trump Foundation told The Post that those listings were incorrect.”
“My interest in this issue really is in my capacity as regulator of non-profits 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 CNN host Jake Tapper. “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.”