Trump Foundation Seeks To Dissolve, Again
November 21, 2017 Andy Segedin and Mark Hrywna
The Donald J. Trump Foundation is, again, seeking to cease operations, but continues to face opposition from the New York Attorney General (NYAG) Eric Schneiderman.
The foundation filed its most recent tax form on Wednesday, the final extension allowed for nonprofits to file their calendar year 2016 forms. In it, the foundation announced “its intent to dissolve and is seeking approval to distribute its remaining funds to highly qualified and important section 501(c)(3) charities.”
Foundation leadership sought to shutter late last year following Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election. Those efforts were blocked by Schneiderman, who said that the foundation could not dissolve while still under investigation by the office for, among other things, a campaign contribution to a group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
“The foundation continues to cooperate with the New York Attorney General’s Charities Division, and as previously announced by the president, his advisers are working with the Charities Division to wind up the affairs of the foundation,” a foundation spokesperson reportedly told ABC News on Monday. “The foundation looks forward to distributing its remaining assets at the earliest possible time to aid numerous worthy charitable organizations.”
A call to foundation headquarters in Woodbury, N.Y. sought additional comment but The NonProfit Times was told not to expect a response until next week.
NYAG Press Secretary Amy Spitalnick, meanwhile, told The NonProfit Times that the foundation is not yet permitted to close its doors.
“Our investigation into the Donald J. Trump Foundation remains ongoing,” Spitalnick said in an email. “Its fundraising activities remain suspended following the AG’s notice of violation last year. As the foundation is still under investigation by this office, it cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete.”
The investigation dates back to at least June 2016, according to exchanges between the office and the foundation. On June 9, 2016, the NYAG office sent a letter to the foundation questioning a $25,000 donation made in 2013 to “And Justice For All,” a group that was supporting Bondi’s campaign. Bondi had, at the time, been considering whether or not to pursue an investigation into Trump University, but never followed through.
The foundation, according to the correspondences, attributed the donation to a “case of mistaken identity involving organizations with the same name.” The foundation provided proof of reimbursement of the gift along with a receipt of a $2,500 excise tax paid.
In September 2016, a NYAG staffer told The NonProfit Times that the still-ongoing investigation was “not just one transaction, it’s a broader concern.” The foundation was also ordered to cease fundraising operations in New York due to a failure to register with the Charities Bureau and provide annual financial reports.
Should the foundation be permitted to dissolve, it would have slightly less than $970,000 in assets to disburse, according to the foundation’s 2016 Form 990-PF. That sum is down from $1.12 million to start the year.
The foundation reported some $2.93 million in revenue, including $2.86 million in contributions. Among the largest contributors to the Trump Foundation last year were:
- $1 million, Laura Perlmutter, philanthropist and wife of Marvel Chairman and Trump advisor, Isaac Perlmutter;
- $1 million, Phil Ruffin, a Las Vegas casino magnate;
- $100,000, daughter Ivanka Trump;
- $50,000, Daryl & Steven Roth Foundation; and,
- $50,000, John J. Cafaro, an Ohio shopping center developer.
The foundation reported about $3 million in contributions, gifts and grants paid. Among the largest contributions by the Trump Foundation last year were:
- $200,000, Racing for Heroes in Beach Creek, Pa.;
- $200,000, Achilles International, New York, N.Y.; and,
- $150,000, Veterans In Command, Jamaica, N.Y.;
The foundation made $100,000 contributions to a number of veterans organizations and other charities as well.
As was the case shortly after the election, nonprofit watchdog group Charity Navigator has labeled the Trump Foundation under a “moderate concern advisory.”