US President-elect Donald Trump’s foundation is currently under investigation for suspect practices. The announcement comes as part of Trump’s efforts to eliminate any conflicts of interest before he takes office.
With less than a month to go until his inauguration, Donald Trump said on Saturday that he intends to shut his controversial charitable entity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation. The billionaire businessman said he had directed his attorney “to take the steps needed to close the charity.”
“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 in a statement.
“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,” he added.
Trump said he will pursue philanthropic efforts through other means, but didn’t elaborate on exactly how he intended to do so.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation has been subject to investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman since September this year. The inquiry seeks to ensure that the foundation is complying with New York state charity laws.
After a month, Schneiderman ordered the foundation to stop fundraising in New York state, saying it wasn’t registered to do so. The organization complied.
The investigation was prompted by reports of transactions that came to light in recent months. Among them was a story from the “Washington Post” which cited tax records showing that Trump had not donated to his foundation since 2008.
The US daily also reported that the foundation spent $20,000 (19, 134 euros) meant for charity to buy a 1.8-meter-tall painting of Trump. In 2013, the foundation also donated $25,000 to Pam Bondi, the attorney general of Florida, just days after reports emerged that she was considering filing fraud charges against Trump University.
Trump has denied any connection between the money and the attorney general, however, with Bondi later deciding not to pursue an investigation.
No legal dissolution
Amy Spitalnick, press secretary for Schneiderman’s office, said on Saturday that the Donald J. Trump Foundation “cannot legally dissolve” until the investigation is complete.
The private charitable organization was founded by Trump in 1987 with money earned from his best-selling book, “The Art of the Deal.”
Until around 2005, the foundation was largely financed by Trump himself. For the past decade, however, it has been funded almost exclusively by donations from friends and associates of the president-elect.
According to the foundation’s most recent filing with the Internal Revenue Service in 2014, the organization claimed assets of some $1,273,895.
ksb/kl (AP, Reuters)