Presidential candidate Donald Trump's charitable organization, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, has been ordered by the New York State Attorney General to "cease and desist from soliciting contributions in New York," as it is in violation of properly registering as a "7-A" charity.
The 7-A charitable organization designation would require the foundation to provide "annual financial reported and audited financial statements," according to the Attorney General's Notice of Violation. In English, that means Eric Schneiderman's office found that the group's public fundraising is not permitted, given its private status.
The designation that Trump's foundation should have received would permit it to publicly solicit more than $25,000 in donations. Without that designation, the group would be in violation of New York law.
According to the Washington Post, James Sheehan, head of the attorney general’s charities bureau, ordered that Trump’s foundation provide all the financial audit reports it should have provided in prior years, when it raised money without legal permission. He said that if Trump’s foundation did not stop its fundraising and file the proper paperwork, that would be considered “a continuing fraud upon the people of New York.”
On Friday, the Chicago Tribune released a detailed report of the ways in which the Trump foundation is likely to have violated its charitable designation. Having received more than $25,000 in each of the last 10 years shown in tax records, the Tribune writes, there is "strong evidence" that the foundation violated the law.
The foundation was started as a vessel to receive the profits from Trump's 1987 book, The Art of the Deal,
Once Trump's presidential campaign was underway, the GOP nominee solicited Americans to donate to the Donald J. Trump Foundation for Veterans instead of tuning in to the Republican Presidential debate that he skipped in January. Those donations, $1.67 million in total according to the charity's website, were then sent to the Donald J. Trump foundation.
Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks said that the Trump campaign is "concerned" about the political motivation behind the investigation, but did not comment further.
The news of the investigation follows more bad money news for the candidate. Over the weekend, The New York Times released a story that said Trump could have legally avoided paying income taxes over 18 years.