The Trump Foundation-Pam Bondi scandal
In March 2016, CREW discovered that the Trump Foundation had broken the law by giving an illegal $25,000 contribution to a political group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Charitable foundations like the Trump Foundation are not allowed to engage in politics. Even more problematic was the fact that the contribution was given as Bondi’s office was deciding whether to take legal action related to Trump University. This would set off an investigation which would lead to one of the biggest stories of the year. Here’s how it went down:
Feb 01, 2008
From February 2008-May 2011, the Florida Office of the Attorney General (OAG) receives at least 22 complaints regarding Trump University, the Trump Institute, and related entities.
Aug 01, 2013
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman files lawsuit against Donald Trump, The Trump Entrepreneur Institute aka Trump University and the former president of Trump University for “engaging in persistent fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct.”
Sep 13, 2013
The Orlando Sentinel reports that OAG told them, “We are currently reviewing the allegations” in the NY lawsuit. A few days later, OAG tells thePalm Beach Post the same thing.
Sep 17, 2013
The Donald J. Trump Foundation makes a $25,000 contribution to And Justice for All, a political group backing Bondi. The donation, illegal for a 501(c)(3) private foundation to give, was personally solicited by Bondi from Trump.
Oct 15, 2013
According to documents turned over in response to a CREW public records request, OAG told reporters that “there was no consideration of whether to join [the New York lawsuit]. In light of the fact that the Attorney General’s Office received only one consumer complaint 2.5 years ago, there is no investigation at this time.”
Oct 17, 2013
The Tampa Bay Times reports that And Justice for All acknowledged receiving the contribution from the Trump Foundation.
Oct 18, 2013
Despite previously acknowledging the 22 complaints (sometimes 23 due to a duplicate record) to reporters, internal emails show that between October 17-18, 2013, OAG employees weeded out any complaint about Trump Institute and related entities to claim there was only one complaint against Trump University.
Jan 01, 2014
In its 2013 taxes, the Trump Foundation claims it made no donations to political entities and replaces And Justice for All with a different, similarly named group in Kansas to which they would legally be allowed to donate.
Mar 22, 2016
Trump representatives admit to the illegal donation, blaming an increasing series of clerical errors.
May 17, 2016
CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder writes an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times summarizing some of the troubling findings in the Trump Foundation’s 990 forms.
Jun 06, 2016
Bondi’s spokesman tells the AP that the Attorney General was unaware of the 20+ complaints against Trump entities when she solicited the donation.
Jun 07, 2016
Bondi tells the Tampa Bay Times “I was never, nor was my office, investigating him. Never. I would never lie. I would never take money. I’ve been obviously devastated over this.”
Jul 06, 2016
CREW files complaints against Bondi with the Inspector General for Florida’s Office of the Attorney General and the state’s Commission on Ethics for potentially violating the law by failing to investigate or take legal action regarding complaints against Trump University and related entities after an affiliated political organization received a contribution from the Trump Foundation.
Aug 08, 2016
CREW files an IRS complaint against the Trump Foundation for acting as a prop for the Trump campaign through its engagement in Trump Campaign events, including payments to groups that came to campaign rallies.
Sep 01, 2016
Following CREW’s discovery that the Trump Foundation did not file an updated 990 tax form, the Washington Post discovered a $2,500 IRS penalty paid by the Foundation for the illegal donation, kicking off one of the biggest stories of the year.
Sep 07, 2016
CREW files a second IRS complaint against Donald Trump and the Trump Foundation for the donation supporting Bondi. The complaint called for an investigation into whether the donation was used to provide a private benefit to Trump and his business interests by attempting to discourage Bondi and her office from investigating Trump University. The complaint also calls for an investigation into Trump for engaging in prohibited self-dealing.
Sep 13, 2016
CREW files criminal bribery complaints against Trump and Bondi with the Department of Justice and calls for a criminal investigation into whether the Trump Foundation broke federal criminal law by making numerous false reports to the IRS on its tax forms.
Sep 14, 2016
CREW files a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request with the New York Attorney General for Trump Foundation tax documents, as well as documents relating to the New York Attorney General’s investigation of the Trump Foundation.
Sep 21, 2016
CREW files its third IRS complaint against Donald Trump after it appears that he repeatedly broke the law by using the Trump Foundation for his personal benefit, calling for an investigation into multiple acts of self-dealing by Trump and into the Foundation for violating the tax code by making multiple payments and grants for the private benefit of Trump and his business interests.
Oct 19, 2016
The NY AG office responds to CREW’s FOIL request, and CREW discovers that not only did the Foundation’s attempts to address its tax issues stemming from the Bondi donation contain serious errors, they also presented materials to the Attorney General that raise significant questions about how they operate and the veracity of their previous claims.
Dec 24, 2016
Trump announced he will shut down the Trump Foundation in the light of the growing scandal. CREW released a statement in response to the announcement.