New York AG's office: Trump Foundation warrants investigation by FEC, IRS

New York AG's office: Trump Foundation warrants investigation by FEC, IRS
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The New York attorney general's office on Thursday sent referrals to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the IRS, arguing that the Donald J. Trump Foundation may have committed violations of federal election and tax laws that warrant further examination by the agencies.

The referral letters came at the same time that Attorney General Barbara Underwood's (D) office filed a lawsuit against the Trump Foundation, seeking its dissolution.

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The letters from Underwood's office focused on alleged coordination between the Trump Foundation and President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller MORE's 2016 campaign, specifically pointing to a nationally televised charity fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa, shortly before the Iowa caucuses. Trump had staged the fundraiser instead of appearing in a GOP primary debate.

According the the attorney general's office, about $2.8 million in illegal in-kind donations made during the fundraiser were contributed to the Trump Foundation.

The foundation and campaign were in touch about how to disburse the funds, the lawsuit continues. Trump presented large presentation copies of supposed checks from the foundation to veterans' charities at his campaign rallies, "for the political benefit of Mr. Trump and to support the Campaign."

The attorney general's office alleged in its referral to the IRS that the Trump Foundation's coordination with the Trump campaign on the Iowa fundraiser and disbursement of funds demonstrates that the foundation engaged in political activity that is not allowed by organizations with tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code.

Under federal tax law, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can't participate in political campaigns on behalf of candidates. 

The attorney general's office told the FEC that it found coordination between the Trump Foundation and Trump campaign on the fundraiser and its subsequent disbursement of funds may have violated several aspects of the Federal Election Campaign Act relating to in-kind contributions and soft money.

The IRS and the FEC both declined to comment on the referral letters.

Trump tweeted on Thursday that Underwood's case is "ridiculous."