New York State Tax Department Opens Investigation Into Donald J. Trump Foundation
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo‘s administration said on Thursday that the state Department of Taxation and Finance is examining if President Donald Trump and his charitable foundation violated state law by transferring assets or making certain misrepresentations to the state, Politico reported.
“Gov. Cuomo believes there is one set of rules for everyone – no matter who you are or how much power you have,” one Cuomo aide said, according to the New York Daily News. “This matter will be investigated to the fullest possible extent, and if appropriate, referred for criminal prosecution.”
The probe started one month after state Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a civil lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court accusing Trump and his three oldest children of operating a charity “in persistent violation”, alleging they engaged in self-dealing and coordinated grants to boost Trump’s political activity. Underwood’s lawsuit alleges that Trump’s campaign team was the driving force behind a January 2016 fundraiser that the foundation undertook for veterans’ groups. Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski asked Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg to make contributions to coincide with campaign activities, Politico reported.
According to the New York Daily News, Underwood´s office said it seeks restitution of $2.8 million plus penalties, the dissolution of the foundation, and bans on Trump and his children from serving on other charitable boards of directors for at least a year.
However, Underwood’s office has limited criminal jurisdiction, but it can bring charges if the governor’s office grants the authority. Late Wednesday, Cuomo’s counsel, Alphonso David, said he would make a referral for the attorney general’s office to criminally investigate the foundation. “At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the state stands ready to provide the attorney general with the appropriate criminal referral on this matter if and when she asks for it,” he said.
Once the Tax Department probe is complete, the findings could be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency to present to a grand jury, a second Cuomo aide said.
In response to the civil complaint Trump lobbed an angry tweet at “sleazy New York Democrats” last month.
The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 14. Juni 2018