New York’s attorney general ordered U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s charitable foundation to immediately stop fundraising in the state, warning a failure to do so would be a “continuing fraud.”
For Trump, the cease-and-desist order was the latest in a series of blows that has sent his campaign reeling. The New York businessman and his aides spent much of the weekend pushing back against suggestions that he may not have paid U.S. federal income taxes for almost 20 years.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office said the Donald J. Trump Foundation was violating a state law requiring charitable organizations that solicit outside donations to register with the office’s Charities Bureau.
“The failure immediately to discontinue solicitation and to file information and reports required under Article 7-A with the Charities Bureau shall be deemed to be a continuing fraud upon the people of the state of New York,” according to a letter dated Friday that the office posted online on Monday.
Trump’s campaign has suggested that the probe launched by Schneiderman, a Democrat, was politically motivated.
The scrutiny of the Trump Foundation came as the Republican candidate was dealing with a damning report by the New York Times which released tax records showing Trump taking an almost US$1 billion loss in 1995 that may have allowed him to avoid paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years.
Schneiderman’s office began a probe into the Trump Foundation as a response to a series by the Washington Post showing how Trump may have violated U.S. Internal Revenue Service rules against “self-dealing” by using foundation money to purchase two portraits of himself, which were then hung at his private golf clubs in New York and Florida.
The newspaper also claimed Trump may have improperly used the foundation to settle legal disputes, including one at his Palm Beach, Florida estate, and to divert income from his business to the charity to avoid paying income tax.
The newspaper said Trump donated foundation money to support Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, who was considering launching an investigation into Trump University, Trump’s for-profit education venture.
Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton has also come under scrutiny over the Clinton Foundation, which she founded with her husband former President Bill Clinton.
Emails from Clinton’s time as the secretary of state showed that key wealthy donors to the foundation might have been granted access to her while she led the country’s top diplomatic body. The New York City-based Clinton Foundation has US$354 million in assets and almost 500 staffers.
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