New York Attorney General Investigating Eric Trump’s Charitable Foundation
Earlier this week, I took note of a report in Forbes regarding the fundraising and expenditures by Eric Trump’s charitable foundation, which appears to have paid an unusually large amount of money to businesses controlled by his father and his family. Yesterday, New York Attorney General Eric Schnederman announced that it had launched an investigation into the Eric Trump Foundation:
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is looking into allegations of self-dealing by the Eric Trump Foundation that were raised by a recent Forbes report.
Schneiderman was already investigating the Donald J. Trump Foundation for whether or not the president personally benefited from the fundraising efforts and spending of the foundation before the inauguration.
“I can confirm that our office is looking into issues at the Eric Trump Foundation raised by the Forbes report,” said Eric Soufer, the attorney general’s director of communications.
Forbes reported this week that it appears the Eric Trump Foundation shifted some money from a benefit for children with cancer at St. Jude’s Hospital into the Trump Organization, a move that could run afoul of prohibitions against self-dealing on the part of charities.
Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Eric Trump Foundation, said the group plans to cooperate with Schneiderman’s review.
“During the past decade, the Eric Trump Foundation has raised over $16.3 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, including more than $3.6 million to St. Jude and other worthwhile causes just in 2016 alone,” Miller said in a statement. “The Foundation intends to cooperate fully with the Attorney General’s review, and looks forward to a productive and open dialogue with the Attorney General’s Office to address any questions it may have.”
As I noted in my post, New York State has some of the strictest laws regarding operation of charities in the country and Schneiderman has been particularly aggressive in investigating and prosecuting charitable operations that are violating the law. It’s possible that there are innocent explanations for the odd transactions that Forbes reported on, and we shouldn’t assume that Eric Trump or anyone else is guilty of a crime. At the same time, though, the publicly available financial records of the charity raise serious questions that need to be investigated notwithstanding whatever good intentions Eric Trump may have or the fact that his father is President.