New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood celebrated a victory over Team Trump Tuesday: The president’s charitable foundation, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, has agreed to dissolve under the supervision of the court rather than on its own terms.
The agreement to dissolve with judicial supervision is part of a lawsuit brought by the New York A.G.’s office against the foundation and its key players, namely Trump and his children, Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr, whom the suit accuses of having used the foundation “as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”
In a statement reported by ABC News Tuesday, A.G. Underwood celebrated the agreement as accomplishing a “key piece of relief” sought in her lawsuit. “Today’s stipulation accomplishes a key piece of the relief sought in our lawsuit earlier this year,” said Underwood. “Under the terms, the Trump Foundation can only dissolve under judicial supervision – and it can only distribute its remaining charitable assets to reputable organizations approved by my office.”
ABC notes that the foundation “had previously sought to dissolve on its own terms,” but under pressure from Underwood’s office, it has agreed to be monitored by the court and the A.G.’s office, “which must review and approve disbursements of remaining funds to make sure the recipients are legitimate.”
Citing alleged campaign contributions and legal settlements, Underwood has accused the Trumps of illegally using money accumulated from charitable donations to the foundation to promote Trump’s political and financial goals. One of the alleged abuses involves buying a portrait of Trump to hang on a hotel wall.
The lawsuit is seeking restitution and the banning of the Trumps from serving on charity boards for a decade.
Trump’s attorneys maintain that the lawsuit is politically motivated, but a judge declined dismissing the case last month.
The Trump Foundation first came under scrutiny by New York when former A.G. Eric Schneiderman began targeting it in 2016. Trump has served as president of the foundation, while Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric have been listed as directors.
In one of its early reports on Schneiderman’s investigation, ABC News provided a breakdown of high-dollar donations to the foundation dating back decades. “The biggest contributor from 2011 to 2014 was Richard Ebers, a man associated with an event-ticketing company, Inside Sports and Entertainment, according to the 990 forms,” ABC reports. “The only other contributor that year was a carpet wholesale company, Prestige Mills, based in Long Island in New York, which contributed $20,000 that year and $14,000 in 2011.”
Trump donated to the foundation himself several times over the years, amounting to over $2.7 million, including $713,000 in 2004.
The foundation has given to a range of charities, including the much-maligned and now-defunct Clinton Foundation, to which the foundation directed $100,000 in 2009 and $10,000 in 2010. ABC also notes that the foundation gave $100,000 in 2014 to the conservative Citizens United Foundation, the group behind the Citizens United case that allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on campaign contributions.
The Foundation also gave to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Elton John Aids Foundation, Michael J. Fox Foundation, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Along with politically charged and celebrity-backed causes, the foundation directed money to schools attended by some of the children in the family.