Not just another day at the office

They say no good deed goes unpunished.

But what if the deeds weren’t good at all?

The New York attorney general’s office is no stranger to going after charities that have behaved badly. But current Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s extensive, extraordinary lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation brings the meaning of self-dealing to a new level.

If the suit’s allegations prove true — and the evidence cited is strong — the foundation existed as little more than Trump’s personal, professional and political piggy bank.

Underwood’s allegations of flagrant disregard for state and federal laws would be stupefying with respect to any charity, but are particularly disturbing given the foundation’s connections to the president and his campaign. In the filing, Trump’s foundation is described as “an empty shell” without a functioning board of directors since at least 1999. It alleges that Trump used his foundation to settle legal claims against his for-profit businesses, including one with a golfer who sought winnings for making a hole-in-one at Trump National Golf Club in Westchester.

The more alarming accusations claim the foundation engaged in political activities connected to and coordinated with Trump’s presidential campaign. If proved, that’s a clear violation of federal election law, as well as New York’s election law.

Remember Trump’s hyped fundraiser for veterans in Iowa before that state’s 2016 caucuses? In the days after the event, the lawsuit alleges, campaign staff, including then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, directed how and when charitable contributions from the foundation to veterans charities would be made. Large checks bearing the foundation’s name were presented at campaign rallies.

In a world where Trump’s many business interests are intertwined with his presidency, where his fixer, Michael Cohen, is accused of making payments through a shell company to hush a porn star who says she had an affair with Trump, and where Trump’s children’s business dealings have come under fire, this monkey business with his charitable foundation might seem like just another day at the office. It’s not.

Newsday

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