June 14 (UPI) — New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Donald Trump Foundation, saying it participated in numerous illegal activities.
The 41-page suit names President Donald Trump, his foundation and children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump.
Prosecutors point to a “pattern of illegal conduct” by the organization for more than a decade — including unlawful political coordination with Trump’s presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit personal and business interests and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations.
“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 a statement.
“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 Foundation is accused of using charity funds to pay legal bills, promote Trump hotels and businesses and purchase personal items. The foundation is also accused of using its name and funds to promote Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Underwood said her office found Trump raised more than $2.8 million in a manner “designed to influence the 2016 presidential election” and that former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski violated state and federal laws.
In an email produced by Underwood’s office, Lewandowski asked for disbursements in Iowa before its 2016 caucuses.
“At least five $100,000 grants were made to groups in Iowa in the days immediately before the February 1, 2016, Iowa caucuses,” prosecutors said.
Underwood said the foundation’s board of directors had not met since 1999 and existed in name only. Trump alone made all decisions for the foundation’s subsequent activities, she added.
The suit seeks $2.8 million in penalties and a 10-year ban against Trump serving as a director of a New York non-profit organization. It also seeks to bar Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump for one year.
The president said in a tweet Thursday he will not settle the suit out of court.
“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,” Trump’s tweet said. “I won’t settle this case!”
Schneiderman was replaced by Underwood in May after several women accused him of physical abuse.
“Schneiderman, who ran the Clinton campaign in New York, never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in disgrace, and his disciples brought it when we would not settle,” Trump said in another tweet.