PRESIDENT Donald Trump has been ordered to pay a $2 million judgement for improperly using his charity, including purchasing a 6-foot portrait of himself, a judge ruled.
The president admitted to, among other things, improperly arranging for his charity, the Trump Foundation, to pay $10,000 for the giant portrait.
That purchase came despite charities being barred from getting involved in political campaigns.
Trump also agreed to pay back $11,525 in foundation funds that were spent on sports memorabilia and champagne at a charity gala, as well as reportedly admitting to paying $158,000 to resolve a lawsuit over a prize for a hole-in-one contest at a Trump-owned golf course.
As part of the settlement, Donald Trump Jr. reimbursed the Trump Foundation for the cost of the portrait.
The full penalty, imposed Thursday, orders Trump to pay $2 million to a variety of charities as a fine for misusing his own charity.
The suit was filed in 2018 by then-Attorney General Barbara Underwood, claiming that Trump and his family used the foundation as a “checkbook” to serve the president’s business and political interests.
New York State Supreme Court Judge Saliann Scarpulla handed down the order on Thursday, stating that the president “breached his fiduciary duty” by allowing his foundation to host a charity event, “Trump for Vets,” in Iowa before the state’s caucuses in 2016.
The judge wrote: “As a director of the Foundation, Mr. Trump owed fiduciary duties to the Foundation… he was a trustee of the Foundation’s charitable assets and was thereby responsible for the proper administration of these assets.”
That event reportedly brought in $5.6 million in tax-free donations, with half going to the charitable causes, while the other half reportedly went to the Trump presidential campaign.
Judge Scarpulla said the event was designed “to further Mr Trump’s political campaign.”
New York State Attorney General Letita James was originally seeking $2.8 million in restitution from the foundation, but Scarpulla gave Trump credit for making good on his pledge to give $2.8 million that his charity raised to veterans’ organizations.
As a result, the judge trimmed the figure to $2 million and rejected a demand for punitive damages and interest.
The state attorney general declared the decision a “major victory in our efforts to protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain.”
The Trump Foundation also said it was pleased with the outcome, claiming that the judge “recognized that every penny ever raised by the Trump Foundation has gone to help those most in need.”
Trump Foundation lawyer Alan Futerfas said the nonprofit has distributed approximately $19 million over the past decade, including $8.25 million of the president’s own money, to hundreds of charitable organizations.
The foundation has was shuttered last December, and Futerfas claimed in a statement that the lawsuit had been “politically motivated.”
For those reasons, Futerfas added, the foundation had been delayed in donating the money to charity.
The foundation will be dissolved and its $1.7 million in remaining funds will go to non-profits, Trump’s lawyers and the attorney general’s office agreed.
Those charities will include Citymeals on Wheels, the United Negro College Fund and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Another admittance by Trump in Thursday’s decision included directing $100,000 in foundation money to be used to settle legal claims over an 80-foot flagpole he had built at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, rather than paying for it out of his own pocket.
The president also accepted restrictions on his future involvement in other charitable organizations, while his three eldest children, who were members of the Trump Foundation, must undergo mandatory training for those who run charities.
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