NEW YORK CITY — New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood Thursday announced a lawsuit agains the Donald J. Trump Foundation and its directors, initiating a special proceeding to dissolve the foundation.
The petition alleges a pattern of "persistent illegal conduct," including "repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump’s personal and business interests," according to a release from the AG's office.
Included in the suit were Trump's children serving on the board of directors, including Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump.
In addition to dissolving the foundation under court supervision, the suit seeks restitution of $2.8 million and ban all directors from serving on the boards of other New York State charities.
According to the release, "Trump used the Trump Foundation’s charitable assets to pay off his legal obligations, to promote Trump hotels and other businesses, and to purchase personal items. In addition, at Mr. Trump’s behest, the Trump Foundation illegally provided extensive support to his 2016 presidential campaign by using the Trump Foundation’s name and funds it raised from the public to promote his campaign for presidency, including in the days before the Iowa nominating caucuses."
“As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” Underwood said in the release. "“This is not how private foundations should function and my office intends to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.”
The AG's investigation alleged to have found at least five instances of self dealing by the foundation, and said that the board of directors had not formally met since 1999.
"Mr. Trump alone made all decisions related to the Foundation," the release said.