New York’s Very Political Attorney General Opens Political Investigation Into Trump Foundation

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By Emily Zanotti | 7:12 pm, October 3, 2016

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has issued a “notice of violation” to Donald Trump and the other controlling board members of the Trump Foundation, enjoining it to cease collecting donations from New Yorkers pending an investigation.

Schneiderman says that the Trump Foundation, which has come under scrutiny recently both for Trump’s own contributions to it and his disbursement of the Foundation’s cash, isn’t on New York’s registry of charitable organizations and hasn’t submitted any financial disclosures. He says the Foundation therefore may have broken state law when it received $25,000 in donations from out of state.

Trump’s Foundation has taken in millions in donations since he founded the organization in 1987. Like Hillary Clinton’s foundation, donors range from small-dollar givers to major corporations, including NBC Universal, which aired Trump’s show, The Apprentice.

Of course, Schneiderman may have reason to be deeply concerned for the sake of his constituents. The Washington Post‘s extensive investigation into Trump’s non-profit reported that he used the foundation’s cash to make strange purchases (like a $20,000 6-foot-tall portrait of himself).

But Schneiderman isn’t an attorney general motivated simply by an ocean of Trump Foundation donor tears and concerned New York residents. He’s endorsed and advised Hillary Clinton and her campaign, and serves on Clinton’s New York leadership council. He even used his own campaign donors’ money to take several “business trips” to Miami to speak at a Hillary fundraiser.

Schneiderman, like several New York attorneys general before him (Eliot Spitzer, most notably), has lived out his partisan goals while in office, undertaking a host of investigations that appear less to punish wrongdoing than to pursue a nakedly political agenda.

He’s gone after big box retailers who dare to cross labor unions; he worked with the Obama Administration to investigate Wall Street banks; he tried to silence corporate political speech with a probe into so-called “donor shields;” he’s worked to silence climate change skeptics with a bizarre RICO lawsuit against Exxon Mobil; and he’s hit Trump twice–first for Trump University and now for Trump’s foundation.

No other charity in New York, it seems, has received Schneiderman’s Trump treatment – or the nakedly political press release that goes along with it.

Meanwhile, his office has allowed more than $225 million in Clinton Foundation reporting discrepancies slip through the cracks — and has allowed the Clinton Foundation to keep foreign donors, who could be using the Foundation to grease government wheels, off the public radar.

Schneiderman’s history with Trump goes way back. Before launching a Presidential campaign, Donald Trump claimed Schneiderman asked him for campaign donations in return for a promise that an ongoing investigation into Trump University would go more smoothly. Schneiderman has denied promising a quid pro quo.

Trump now has 15 days to produce key Trump Foundation documents, including financial disclosures and audited financial statements. After that, it’s likely Schneiderman will launch a full investigation into the foundation’s operations.

Trump, characteristically, is focusing on Schneiderman’s political ambition. “While we remain very concerned about the political motives behind A.G. Schneiderman’s investigation, the Trump Foundation nevertheless intends to cooperate fully with the investigation,” Hope Hicks told media in a statement. “The Trump Foundation will not comment further at this time.”