The New York attorney general’s office and lawyers for President Donald Trump’s charitable foundation are set to face off in court Thursday over the state’s civil lawsuit that alleges the charity violated campaign finance laws and abused its tax-free status.
In State Supreme Court in Manhattan, a judge is set to hear oral arguments in the Trump team’s effort to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed in June.
The suit alleges that the Donald J. Trump Foundation and its directors – including Trump, his sons Eric and Donald Jr. and his daughter Ivanka – violated federal and state charities law with a “persistent” pattern of conduct that included unlawful coordination with the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.
At times during the presidential race, the lawsuit alleges, for example, Trump campaign staffers were permitted to direct the charity’s expenditures, and in certain cases those expenditures appeared to benefit groups that were politically valuable to the then-candidate.
The attorney general’s office, led by Barbara Underwood, is seeking to dissolve the Trump Foundation and wants $2.8 million in restitution, plus additional penalties. The office is also seeking to ban Trump from serving as a director of any New York nonprofit for 10 years and to prohibit the other board members, the Trump children, from serving for one year.
The investigation that led to the lawsuit found that the board existed in name only and did not meet at any point after 1999.
The foundation and its board members have filed a motion to dismiss the case. An attorney for the defendants, Alan Futerfas, has argued in court filings that suit was the product of “pervasive bias” on the part of former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who resigned from office before the case was filed and after four women accused of him of physical assault.
Schneiderman has denied the assault allegations, and the lawsuit was brought by Underwood, who replaced him.
Futerfas has also argued in filings that the foundation didn’t violate its non-profit status because it didn’t contribute to or advocate for the Trump campaign.