New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has ordered the Donald J. Trump Foundation to immediately stop soliciting donations and to turn over its records.
The charity, founded by Republican nominee Donald Trump, came under scrutiny after it was discovered the business mogul never obtained the required state certification to solicit public donations.
On Sept. 30, Schneiderman’s office issued a letter to the Trump Foundation announcing that the charity had violated state law. The letter became public on Oct. 3, The New York Times reports.
“The Trump Foundation must immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fund-raising activities in New York,” wrote chief James Sheehan of the charities bureau.
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The letter demanded the Trump Foundation turn over audited financial statements and annual financial reports within 15 days.
“The failure to discontinue solicitation and to file information and reports shall be deemed a fraud upon the people of the state of New York,” Sheehan added.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks issued a statement in response to the cease and desist letter.
“While we remain very concerned about the political motives behind A.G. Schneiderman’s investigation, the Trump Foundation nevertheless intends to cooperate fully with the investigation,” Hicks said. “Because this is an ongoing legal matter, the Trump Foundation will not comment further at this time.”
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Schneiderman is a registered Democrat and a supporter of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
On Sept. 29, it was discovered that the Trump Foundation had never obtained the proper certification to solicit public donations in New York. Charities in the state that solicit over $25,000 a year require certification, The Washington Post reports.
Professor James J. Fishman of Pace University noted that a businessman as wealthy as Trump would have had to have known about the certification.
“You wouldn’t expect somebody who’s supposed to be sophisticated, and brags about his business prowess, would run his foundation like this,” Fishman said.
The Trump Foundation was founded in 1987. From 1987 to 2006, Trump personally donated $5.4 million to the charity but has not personally contributed to it since 2008.
Journalist David Fahrenthold has been investigating the Trump Foundation throughout 2016. He has found that the GOP nominee has been directing money that is owed to his personal businesses to the charity, where he would not have to pay income taxes on the donations.
“It took money in from his business empire,” Fahrenthold told NPR. “It gave money out to help buy things for him or buy things for his business empire that, really, he doesn’t seem to have understood that ... A charity is not set up to benefit you.”