The New York Attorney General’s office announced on Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation and its directors, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump.
The petition filed by New York AG Barbara Underwood alleges a “persistent violation of state and federal law governing New York state charities.” The petition outlines a “pattern of illegal conduct by the Foundation and its board members” that includes “improper and extensive political activity” and “repeated and willful self-dealing transactions,” as well as a failure to follow basic laws governing non-profits.” The petition also alleges that the Trump Foundation illegally coordinated with the Trump campaign.
The petition follows an investigation of the Foundation begun in June 2016. “As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” Underwood said in a statement. The petition alleges that the Trump Foundation violated multiple state and federal laws “because payments were made using Foundation money regardless of the purpose of the payment.” The AG’s investigation found the Foundation money was used to promote Trump hotels, buy personal items for Trump, and “support his presidential election campaign.”
According to the AG’s announcement:
The Attorney General’s investigation found that Trump Foundation raised in excess of $2.8 million in a manner designed to influence the 2016 presidential election at the direction and under the control of senior leadership of the Trump presidential campaign. The Foundation raised the funds from the public at the nationally televised fundraiser Mr. Trump held in lieu of participating in the presidential primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 28, 2016.
Though campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is not named in the lawsuit, the AG’s office obtained emails from Lewandowski “dictated the timing, amounts, and recipients of grants by the Foundation to non-profits, as evidenced by communications between Campaign staff and Foundation representatives.”
The lawsuit seeks $2.8 million, plus penalties, in restitution. The petition also demands that the Foundation be dissolved for “its persistent illegal conduct” and that its board—Trump and his children—be enjoined “from future service as a director of any not-for-profit authorized by New York law.”
Trump responded to the announcement on Twitter: