Speed Reads


Donald Trump has his own family charity problems

The Clinton Foundation, the global charity set up by former President Bill Clinton, has caused some headaches for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and Donald Trump says he will tell everyone about it in a major speech. But it turns out that several ethics and campaign law watchdogs are also calling for an investigation of Trump's family foundation, The Daily Beast reports, with groups including the Sunlight Foundation, Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington (CREW), the Campaign Legal Center, and Public Citizen accusing Trump of using the Trump Foundation as a political slush fund.

One of the red flags was Trump, listed as president of the foundation (children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Trump Jr. are directors), handing out Trump Foundation checks to veterans groups at campaign rallies earlier this year. "A 501(c)(3), like the Trump Foundation, is strictly prohibited from engaging in political activity," said CREW spokesman Jordan Libowitz. Trump used his foundation to handle donations he raised during an event to protest a Fox News presidential debate he'd bowed out of, and the veteran charities were at Trump's campaign rallies to pick up the Trump Foundation checks. "It raises serious questions when you make a charity part of your campaign event," says Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. "It could create legal problems for both the campaign and the charity.”

The biggest potential problem for Trump and his charity is a $25,000 donation the foundation — which appears to have no dedicated staff — sent to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi shortly before she dropped interest in a fraud lawsuit against Trump University. CREW has filed a complaint with the IRS about that donation; Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks called it a mistake and blamed the failure to report the donation on a "series of unfortunate coincidences and errors." Philip Hackney, a former IRS chief counsel, told The Daily Beast that the Bondi donation itself is enough to launch an investigation, but says he doesn't think the IRS will touch it. "I think it's dangerous, particularly politically for them right now, to audit in this realm," he said. "That bothers me, given what I see in this particular case, but I don't know that the IRS has another choice in some ways." You can read more at The Daily Beast.