Donald Trump just paid an IRS penalty over a $25,000 donation his foundation illegally made to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi just before she conveniently dropped an investigation into Trump University. In the case, Trump not only used his supposedly charitable foundation to push money to a political campaign, but reported the cash as going to an actual charity, which never got the money. If some eagle-eyed outsiders hadn’t spotted the issue, no one would have known that Trump used his foundation to move this money into Bondi’s pocket.
As it turns out, this wasn't the only case or even the largest case of Trump using his foundation to make contributions.
Donald Trump’s charitable foundation gave $100,000 in 2014 to a conservative activist group that was used to help finance a federal lawsuit against New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — the same public official who was suing the real estate mogul for fraud over the operations of Trump University.
The attorney general who dropped Trump’s case got a fat contribution and a swanky fundraising event. The attorney general who didn’t drop the suit, found a big check being cut for a group dedicated to forcing him out of office.
And both of these political contributions—for Bondi and against Schneiderman—were paid out through a “charitable foundation” where Donald Trump rarely makes personal contributions, but does encourage those who want to do business with him to make a deposit. Which makes it sound very much like Donald Trump managed to combine a classic pay-for-play scheme and money laundering all in one neat package.
What wasn’t going on in Trump’s charitable foundation? Well, there wasn’t much charity.
A review of tax returns filed by the Trump Foundation shows that the 2014 donation to Bossie’s Citizens United Foundation was by far the largest it gave to any organization that year, substantially exceeding its contributions to more traditional charities, such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (which got $50,000), the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ($25,000) and the Police Athletic League ($25,000).
The primary purpose of the Trump Foundation wasn’t charity. Which should also interest the IRS … and a lot of other people. And for anyone who thought money given to the Trump Foundation went to help someone in need? Think again.