New questions over the financial dealings of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump have arisen following an investigation by the Washington Post.
Reporter David Farenthold obtained documents and interviewed sources who say show Trump paid money from his charitable organization, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, to settle lawsuits involving his for-profit business.
According to his report on Tuesday, some $258,000 was paid out from his charity to settle a case involving unpaid fines from his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, and a case involving someone who sued one of his golf courses when it failed to pay out a $1 million prize for a hole-in-one.
Tax records show most of the foundation’s money comes from outside sources, not Trump, the report says. This could violate tax laws for “self-dealing,” which says charity leaders cannot direct charitable donations in a way that benefits themselves.
Donald Trump has been adamant about not releasing his personal tax returns ahead of the November elections – becoming the first candidate in 40 years to not release them – despite pressure from some sections of the public and even his own party, CNN Money reports.
After the Post report was published, Trump’s campaign issued a statement saying the newspaper “have gotten their facts wrong” and that the report is “peppered with inaccuracies,” but offered no specifics as to what exactly was incorrect in the story.
He accuses Farenthold of being “biased” and argues the newspaper is trying to distract attention from the “corrupt” Clinton Foundation, which was dogged last month by accusations of donations being a way of accessing Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state.
The Post report also alleges that Trump spent $10,000 of the foundation’s money to buy a portrait of himself at a charity fundraiser in 2014.
The Hillary Clinton campaign, responding to the Washington Post story, said it shows the need for Trump to release his tax returns, the L.A. Times reports.
A spokesperson added: “Clearly the Trump Foundation is as much a charitable organization as Trump University is an institute of higher education.”
Trump’s charity dealings are currently being probed by the New York attorney general’s office, and his tax records being audited by the IRS as well (a reason he has given in the past for not releasing them).
If the IRS finds he violated self-dealing laws, he could face fines and reimbursing the foundation for the money spent on his own behalf.