Explaining the Trump Foundation
The Trump Foundation is the name commonly used when referring to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a tax-exempt private foundation established by former president Donald Trump in 1988. He created this foundation as a means to collect and handle the royalties from his popular book Trump: The Art of the Deal and to collect donations and distribute them to charitable causes.
The Trump Foundation had very few staff, consisting only of Donald Trump and the board members, and had no physical office space from which to operate.
2016 brought about the start of investigations into the Trump Foundation. These investigations primarily focused on how foundation money was being spent, the source of incoming donations, where the donations went, and to whom the donations were being made.
At the end of 2016, a month before Donald Trump’s inauguration, he attempted to dissolve the Trump Foundation so there would be no conflict of interest with one of his businesses and his presidency. He was stopped from doing so by the Attorney General of the New York State due to the fact that he, and his business, were currently under investigation and could not dissolve until the investigation had come to a conclusion.
Misuse of Foundation Funds for Personal Use or Gain
Investigations by numerous parties, starting officially in 2016, brought allegations, complaints, and charges to be filed against the Trump Foundation. The core of these issues came from the misuse of foundation funds by Donald Trump. Instances of him misusing funds have been dated almost three decades prior, possibly starting as early as 1989.
Records going back almost two decades have provided multiple instances of Donald Trump using the Trump Foundation to avoid income taxes. This was accomplished by having people or organizations direct his payments for personal appearances to the Trump Foundation. Due to the foundation being a tax-exempt organization, he avoided the income tax which would have been imposed on his large payments if not placed into the foundation account.
Records have shown Donald Trump has used funds from his foundation to pay off multiple legal settlements. He was ordered to pay the settlement amount owed to the correct parties on multiple occasions after losing legal battles. Instead of using money from his personal accounts, he made the necessary payments using money from the Trump Foundation, a foundation that was supposed to be receiving and distributing money to and from charities.
Misuse of Foundation Funds Regarding Charitable Donations
Over the decades, Donald Trump has made and pledged many charitable donations to many organizations. However, not all of these pledges were fulfilled. Many organizations only saw partial amounts of the donation promised and never received the rest of the donation pledged to them. Donald Trump failed to fulfill many donation pledges he made, leaving organizations, foundations, and causes without any donation at all.
Some records searched during the investigations against Donald Trump revealed falsely claimed donations. Donald Trump had proudly pledged donations to multiple organizations, stating he personally was giving the donation. Records show, however, that he used money from the Trump Foundation to pay for some of these donations, not paying for them with any of his money, contrary to what he had claimed.
The Dissolution of the Trump Foundation
Before his presidential inauguration, Donald Trump handed control of the foundation over to some of his children for them to manage, removing a conflict of interest by having a personal business while being president. Soon after, he announced that he was going to dissolve the Trump Foundation in December of 2016. This was prevented by the orders of the Attorney General of the New York State as Donald Trump and his foundation were still under investigation and it was not allowed to be dissolved until the investigation had concluded.
The investigation finished two years later and the Trump Foundation was ordered to dissolve in December of 2018. Upon dissolving, the Trump Foundation was ordered to pay back a certain amount of funds to a number of organizations as restitution. The rest of the money in the Trump Foundation, over two million dollars, was to be divided and donated to charities chosen and approved by the court system, and with that completed, the foundation was officially dissolved.