New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office is investigating Donald Trump’s charitable foundation “to make sure it’s complying with the laws governing charities in New York,” he said Tuesday.
“We’ve inquired into it,” Schneiderman told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.” “We’ve had correspondence with them. I didn’t make a big deal out of it or hold a press conference. But we have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it’s complying with the laws governing charities in New York.”
The inquiry comes amid a series of reports by The Washington Post that Trump spent money from his charity, The Donald J. Trump Foundation, on himself, used it to recycle others’ contributions to make them appear to have come from him and hasn’t given to the foundation since 2008.
In another article, The Post had reported that the recipients of five charitable contributions listed by the Trump Foundation had no record of receiving those donations. But the newspaper updated its report after CNN questioned the accuracy of three of the five donations it had cited.
“My interest in this issue really is in my capacity as regulator of non-profits in New York state, and we have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety from that point of view,” Schneiderman said.
The Trump campaign called Schneiderman “a partisan hack who has turned a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation for years and has endorsed Hillary Clinton.”
“This is nothing more than another left-wing hit job designed to distract from (Hillary Clinton’s) disastrous week,” said Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman in a statement.
A source familiar with Schneiderman’s actions said the New York attorney general’s office is conducting “an inquiry into the Trump Foundation about troubling transactions that we’ve seen.”
The IRS fined the Trump Foundation $2,500 earlier this month for making a $25,000 political donation to a group supporting the campaign of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013. At the time, Bondi’s office was reviewing allegations into Trump University and considering opening an investigation.
A formal investigation was never opened, and Trump and Bondi have both said there was no wrongdoing and said the donation was not tied to any favors.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday sent a letter asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch to open an investigation into the Trump donation to Bondi.
The New York attorney general’s office and Trump’s foundation have been corresponding since June, four letters CNN obtained from a source familiar with the correspondence show.
The correspondence begins with a June 9 letter from the attorney general’s office to both Trump’s presidential campaign and his foundation. The letter, from Assistant Attorney General Karin Kunstler Goldman, asks for information related to the $25,000 donation to “And Justice for All,” – the pro-Bondi PAC – including “the dates, amounts and recipient of any political contributions made by your organization from January 1, 2013 to the present.”
Trump Foundation treasurer Allen Weisselberg replied to the request in a June 28 letter, saying the contribution “was made in error due to a case of mistaken identity involving organizations with the same name.”
Weisselberg asserts the foundation and Trump learned of the mistake in March 2016 after seeing it in the media and Trump paid the excise tax due with a personal check.
“This was an isolated occurrence,” Weisselberg added. “From January 1, 2013 to the present, there have been no other similar incidents.”
Goldman replies in a July 15 letter asking for all documentation related to the “And Justice for All” contribution.
On July 25, the attorney general’s office receives a letter from Sheri A. Dillon, partner at law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP complying with the requests.
Schneiderman has already sued Trump University, and on Tuesday called it a “scheme to fleece thousands of people all over America out of millions of dollars.”
This story has been updated.
CNN’s Curt Devine, Drew Griffin and David Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.