Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Florida AG Personally Asked For Donation Before Declining Lawsuit Against Trump University

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

The Donald J. Trump Foundation may have illegally donated $25,000 to a political organization supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi re-election campaign while her office was considering joining a multi-state lawsuit involving Trump University, according to an IRS complaint filed by the watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

According to Florida campaign finance records, in September 2013 the Trump Foundation contributed $25,000 to And Justice for All, a political organization backing Bondi's re-election.  Section 501(c)(3) private foundations like the Trump Foundation, however, are prohibited from all political activity, including contributing to political organizations.  Despite making the political contribution, the Trump Foundation claimed on its tax forms that it did not transfer any money to a  political organization or engage in any political activity.



“The rules are clear: a tax-exempt charitable foundation cannot support a political group,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said.  “The apparent failure to tell the IRS about this political activity makes matters worse and is something we’ve seen too many organizations doing lately.”

According to a story first broke by the Orlando Sentinel, the contribution was made three days after it was reported that Bondi’s office was reviewing joining the New York Attorney General’s lawsuit against Trump University.  Bondi’s office decided not to join the suit or open an investigation. The Associated Press reports that Bondi personally solicited the donation.

“The IRS needs to look into this,” Bookbinder said.  “It is a serious problem if charitable foundations are used to influence politics.”

During her endorsement of Trump for President back in March, Bondi stated:

" ... We have been friends for years, and I know his family personally. I’ve seen first-hand how he leads, and how he cares deeply about the people of this country. If elected President I know he will bring America’s best minds together to preserve what we have, and secure what we need, for the future ... "

" ... Pam is one of the many individuals I have formed a great relationship with and I am very proud to receive her support,” Trump stated in response to her endorsement.