New York’s Democratic attorney general has directed the Trump Foundation to “cease and desist” from soliciting charity contributions, claiming the organization does not have the proper certification.
The notice comes after New York AG Eric Schneiderman’s office told a newspaper last week that the Republican presidential nominee’s foundation did not have the registration needed to ask for donations. The same office announced Monday that it had sent a “Notice of Violation” to the foundation on Friday.
The notice directed the group to “immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in other fundraising activities in New York” and provide financial documents to the state Charities Bureau within 15 days.
Schneiderman is a Hillary Clinton supporter. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks suggested, in response to the announcement, that political motivations may be at play -- while pledging the group would cooperate.
"While we remain very concerned about the political motives behind AG Schneiderman's investigation, the Trump Foundation nevertheless intends to cooperate fully with the investigation. Because this is an ongoing legal matter, the Trump Foundation will not comment further at this time," Hicks said in a statement.
New York law states that any charity that asks for more than $25,000 per year needs to obtain a special registration before soliciting offers. The Trump Foundation, a fairly large charity, must also undergo an audit. The Washington Post, which first reported on Schneiderman’s concerns last week, reported that Trump was the sole donor to his foundation for many years – contributing $5.4 million between 1987 and 2006. Under state law, the foundation was only required to have a looser certification and only had to file annual reports with the IRS and state and didn’t need an independent audit.
But starting in the early 2000s, it reportedly started to take in smaller donations from others. By not obtaining the special certification from New York, the Trump Foundation avoided an audit.
Trump has been facing mounting questions surrounding his foundation, though Clinton has faced more regarding Clinton Foundation dealings. A Washington Post report last week claimed Trump spent $258,000 from his foundation to settle lawsuits that involved his businesses – a move that the Post says may have violated laws against “self-dealing” that bar heads of nonprofits from using charity money to benefit themselves.
Trump’s campaign shot back at the report, calling it “peppered with inaccuracies and omissions from a biased reporter” and attempted to turn the spotlight back onto the Clinton Foundation.
"In typical Washington Post fashion, they’ve gotten their facts wrong. It is the Clinton Foundation that is set up to make sure the Clintons personally enrich themselves by selling access and trading political favors,” the statement said. “The Trump Foundation has no paid board, no management fees, no rent or overhead, and no family members on its payroll.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.