Trump Foundation to Dissolve Under Court’s Watch

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood notes that the Trump Organization made at least five grants of $100,000 to groups in Iowa in the days before the Iowa caucuses on  Feb. 1, 2016.

MANHATTAN (CN) – The Trump Foundation has agreed to dissolve under the watchful eyes of a judge and New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, papers made public Tuesday show.

Dated Dec. 11, the 3-page stipulation released by Underwood’s office today does not end the $2.8 million lawsuit initiated six months ago, which disputed the notion of the Trump Foundation as a charity, saying the president instead used it as a personal checkbook.

“Our petition detailed a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation – including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more,” Underwood said in a statement Tuesday. “This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”

Underwood’s lawsuit followed a two-year investigation, which itself was inspired by a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting by the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold on what activities the Trump Foundation got up to on the campaign trail.

Crowdsourcing information on Twitter, the reporter solicited tips from readers who helped pin down the foundation’s curious financial transactions: among them, a 6-foot tall portrait of Trump.

Underwood unveiled her lawsuit with a picture of a $100,000 check Trump bestowed to a veterans group on behalf of the foundation, one night before the Iowa caucuses.

Alleging that such disbursements were orchestrated by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, not the foundation, Underwood said the charity’s true goal of electioneering before a critical contest was evident.

On Tuesday, the foundation’s attorney Alan Futerfas argued that efforts to dissolve the foundation have been underway since the election.

“Unfortunately, the NYAG sought to prevent dissolution for almost two years, thereby depriving those most in need of nearly $1.7 million,” Futerfas claimed. “Over the past decade, the foundation is proud to have distributed approximately $19 million, including $8.25 million of the President’s personal money, to over 700 different charitable organizations with virtually zero expenses. The NYAG’s inaccurate statement of this morning is a further attempt to politicize this matter.”

Underwood called today’s agreement a key piece of the relief sought, emphasizing that the dissolution Trump sought two years ago was part of a bid to avoid oversight.

“Under the terms, the Trump Foundation can only dissolve under judicial supervision – and it can only distribute its remaining charitable assets to reputable organizations approved by my office,” Underwood said.

As mandated by the stipulation, the Trump Foundation and Underwood must jointly submit a list of not-for-profit organizations to receive distributions within 30 days of Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla’s signature.

Underwood may object to the distribution of funds if information is revealed that “negatively affects the suitability of such organizations to receive distribution of charitable assets in this matter,” the stipulation says.

Underwood touted the agreement as “an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone.”

“We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law,” she added.

The foundation’s attorney Alan Futerfas did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

Earlier this month, Scarpulla rejected a bid by the Trump Foundation to dismiss Underwood’s lawsuit. The foundation had argued unsuccessfully that a state judge has no jurisdiction over a sitting president and that Underwood is biased against the president.

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