Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Ethics group asks IRS to investigate Trump's donation to Bondi

Donald Trump and Pam Bondi hug after the attorney general endorsed the presidential candidate in Tampa last week.

James Borchuck, Times

Donald Trump and Pam Bondi hug after the attorney general endorsed the presidential candidate in Tampa last week.



The Donald J. Trump Foundation’s donation to Pam Bondi’s political committee may have been illegal, according to an ethics watchdog group.

In 2013, when Bondi was running for re-election as attorney general, the Trump Foundation gave $25,000 to And Justice for All, which she controls. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on Monday asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the money.

But private foundations are prohibited under the tax code from engaging in political activity, according to a letter from the watchdog group to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. (Read the letter.)

What’s more, the Trump Foundation’s federal tax filings from 2013 say the group did not “participate or intervene in any political campaign” and did not spend more than $100 for “political purposes.”

“The IRS should investigate whether the contribution violated the tax code and whether the Trump Foundation’s representations violated federal law,” CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder wrote in the letter.

As a result, CREW says the IRS should consider revoking the Trump Foundation’s tax-exempt status. But the letter suggests that the foundation or its accountants may have committed perjury, a felony, by putting false information on tax forms.

Calls to the accountant listed on the Trump Foundation’s form 990 from 2013 were not returned.

The $25,000 donation has been under scrutiny before. And Bondi’s endorsement of Trump at a presidential campaign swing through Tampa last week brought these questions back to the surface.

The contribution came just after New York filed a lawsuit against Trump University alleging that false claims by the for-profit college “scammed” more than 5,000 people out of more than $40 million.

The Florida attorney general’s office has never pursued an investigation even though it received complaints. Spokesman Whitney Ray said last week that Bondi was not directly involved in that decision.

CREW's letter raises similar concerns, citing reporting by the Orlando Sentinel and the Times/Herald but does not address them in its "potential violations."

[Last modified: Monday, March 21, 2016 12:37pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours