Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump used over a quarter-million dollars from his eponymous charitable organization to settle lawsuits against his for-profit business interests, according to reports.
Such action violates self-dealing laws, which bar business leaders from using charitable funds to benefit their commercial activity, reports David Fahrenthold at The Washington Post.
Trump paid out settlement fees beginning in 2007 for various claims brought against his clubs and properties around the country, according to the report. The first documented instance came when the town of Palm Beach, Fla. assessed over $120,000 in fines against him for erecting a flagpole at his Mar-a-Lago club. The size of the flagpole violated town ordinances. Trump lawyers argued in federal court that a smaller flagpole “would fail to appropriately express the magnitude of Donald J. Trump’s … patriotism.”
Trump settled with the town, agreeing to donate $100,000 to a charity for veterans. He made two donations; one for $100,000 to Fisher House, which runs a network of homes providing lodging and care to military personnel receiving medical treatment, and $25,000 to the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. A copy of the Fisher House check obtained by the Post indicates it was issued from the Donald J. Trump Foundation. (RELATED: Trump Threatens To Sue NYT With Fake Civil Standard)
Another lawsuit was settled by similar means. Martin Greenburg brought a claim against Trump National Golf Club in Westchester after it failed to pay out a $1 million prize for hitting a hole-in-one during a charity tournament in 2010. The club informed Greenburg he had not qualified for the prize, as club rules required the shot to be at least 150 yards long. However, the 13th hole, on which Greenburg had hit his hole-in-one, was shorter than the required distance.
Greenburg and the club eventually settled. The club agreed to make a $158,000 donation to the Martin Greenburg Foundation. Tax filings indicate the check was cut by Trump’s charity.
Such actions violate federal laws prohibiting self-dealing, which occurs when an action taken by a corporate entity is done for a person’s personal gain. Self-dealing also violates the duty of loyalty, which requires all corporate officers to act only in their official capacities and avoid personal conflicts of interest.
Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s own charitable foundation also struggles under scrutiny. A draft report obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller News Foundation indicates the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) distributed “water-down” HIV/AIDS drugs to patients in Africa, increasing risks of morbidity and mortality across the continent.
The U.S. Department of Justice assessed a $500 million fine against Indian drug manufacturer Ranbaxy for intent to defraud and the introduction of adulterated drugs into interstate commerce in 2013. The company was one of CHAI’s largest distributors in Africa.
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