Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Miami last week. A Democratic group has filed a complaint with Attorney General Pam Bondi, calling for an investigation into whether Trump used his family's charitable foundation to benefit his private Mar-a-Lago club in 2007. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo
PALM BEACH, Fla., Sept. 22 (UPI) -- A Democratic group has filed a complaint with the Florida attorney general, calling for an investigation into whether Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump illegally used his charitable foundation to settle a lawsuit against his for-profit golf club.
The group, the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, cited a report this week in the Washington Post, which stated the Trump Foundation, the candidate's personal charity, wrote a $100,000 check to a veterans group in 2007 to settle back fines by the town of Palm Beach, Fla., against Trump's Mar-a-Lago club over a flagpole the town said was too high. Trump agreed to make the donation rather than pay the $120,000 fine, but used his charity to do it.
Previously, the Post reported that Trump made modest donations to his own charity for years, and none at all since 2008. Instead, the Post reported he solicited donations from other people, then used their money to make donations under the Trump Foundation name.
The IRS prohibits those in charge of tax-free charitable foundations from "self-dealing," or using charitable funds for personal benefit. Trump's campaign denied any wrongdoing.
The Democratic group called on Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican and Trump supporter, to investigate the Trump Foundation's long-term operations in Florida to see whether it violated the law.
"It's clear Donald Trump and his 'foundation' need to be investigated, especially in Florida" said Scott Dworkin, senior adviser to the Democratic Coalition Against Trump. "And while Attorney General Bondi is at it, maybe she can investigate the $25,000 bribe she received from Trump's foundation as well."
Bondi was the target of criticism due to a Trump Foundation donation a group supporting her election received. Trump has said he intended the $25,000 donation to come out of his own pocket, but due to a paperwork problem, the money came from the foundation by mistake. Trump's campaign said someone who works for Trump mistook Bondi's group "And Justice For All" as a charity with a similar name and processed the donation using Trump Foundation funds instead of money from Trump's personal account. The IRS investigated the matter after it was reported by the Post in March and eventually fined the Trump Foundation $2,500 for making an illegal contribution to a political organization.
The donation came while Bondi's office was determining whether it would join New York in a lawsuit against Trump's for-profit business seminars known as Trump University. Shortly after receiving the donation, Bondi announced Florida would not join in the Trump University suit.
Both Trump and Bondi denied any link between the donation and her office's handling of the Trump University case.