Last week I posted about the investigative report from Kurt Eichenwald at Newsweek, who takes a deep dive into the Trump Orgnaization’s extensive global operations and explains why this should raise concerns with voters. HOW THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION’S FOREIGN BUSINESS TIES COULD UPEND U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY.
Eichenwald’s report raised concerns for the military and national security communities. The New York Times reports, Letter From Former Officials Urges Donald Trump to Detail Foreign Dealings:
More than 50 former government officials and national security and military figures have signed an open letter to Donald J. Trump, urging him to disclose details of his overseas business investments before Election Day.
The letter — signed by dozens of supporters of the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton — was drafted as Mr. Trump, the Republican pick who is reported to have extensive overseas entanglements, has refused to release his tax returns.
Michael J. Morell, a former acting director of the C.I.A., and Michael G. Vickers, a former under secretary of defense for intelligence, put together the letter with input from Samantha Vinograd, a former senior adviser to Thomas E. Donilon, a former national security adviser.
“Donald Trump still has not revealed to the American public his international business relationships, even as it becomes increasingly clear that his overseas ties could well constitute significant conflicts of interest when it comes to charting U.S. foreign policy,” the letter reads. “This is unprecedented for a candidate for the nation’s highest office. As such, we are calling on Mr. Trump to disclose, in full, the nature of his business relationships overseas — to include specifically who his business partners are and what and where are his foreign investments.”
The signers — who also include prominent Republicans such as Michael Chertoff, who led the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, and Paul D. Wolfowitz, Mr. Bush’s deputy secretary of defense — add that Mr. Trump should “pledge that he will divest himself of his overseas business interests should he win the presidency.”
Some new Trump scandals that you may not have heard about from the media in Arizona.
The Washington Post reports, Trump’s ties to an informant and FBI agent reveal his mode of operation:
Donald Trump listened skeptically as his labor consultant bragged in early 1981 about connections to New York’s underworld.
Daniel Sullivan, who dealt with labor problems at Trump’s construction sites, was a 42-year-old giant of a man with great charm and a criminal record. He told Trump he was tight not only with leaders of unions, some of them fronts for the mob, but also with the FBI.
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It turned out Sullivan was telling the truth. One day in April 1981, he walked into Trump’s Manhattan office with two men in suits. They were FBI agents, and they wanted to talk to Trump about organized crime.
Trump welcomed them in.
That meeting came at a pivotal time early in Trump’s career, when he was trying to establish himself as a Manhattan developer and Atlantic City casino operator.
Trump soon deepened his interactions with Sullivan, who turned out to be an FBI informant, and cultivated a friendship with one of the FBI agents, a young investigator named Walt Stowe, who was one of Sullivan’s handlers at the agency.
Over the next few years, Trump, Sullivan and Stowe forged a triangle of mutually beneficial interests as Trump sought to grow a casino and real estate empire.
The story of the entrepreneur, the informant and the FBI offers new insights into the man who would be president.
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During his run for the White House, Trump has maintained that he always operated aboveboard as a real estate developer and casino operator, at a time when corruption and organized crime were rampant in New York and Atlantic City. But the details of Trump’s relationships with Sullivan and Stowe show that he worked with men with underworld connections to further and protect his business interests.
He entered into a land deal with Sullivan and an organized crime figure who was later targeted for a hit. He agreed to finance Sullivan’s purchase of a company under FBI investigation for racketeering. And he collaborated on a plan with Stowe and other FBI agents to allow an undercover operation at his first casino.
In speaking in court and to journalists over the years, Trump has minimized his relationship with Sullivan, who died of a heart attack in 1993, saying he briefly used him as an unpaid consultant and playing down his role.
Trump did not respond to detailed questions from The Post about his interactions with Sullivan.
The New York Times reports, A Trump Empire Built on Inside Connections and $885 Million in Tax Breaks:
[Donald Trump’s book, Trump: The Art of the Deal], and numerous interviews over the years, make little mention of a crucial factor in getting the Grand Hyatt hotel built: an extraordinary 40-year tax break that has cost New York City $360 million to date in forgiven, or uncollected, taxes, with four years still to run, on a property that cost only $120 million to build in 1980.
The project set the pattern for Mr. Trump’s New York career: He used his father’s, and, later, his own, extensive political connections, and relied on a huge amount of assistance from the government and taxpayers in the form of tax breaks, grants and incentives to benefit the 15 buildings at the core of his Manhattan real estate empire.
Since then, Mr. Trump has reaped at least $885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies for luxury apartments, hotels and office buildings in New York, according to city tax, housing and finance records. The subsidies helped him lower his own costs and sell apartments at higher prices because of their reduced taxes.
Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee for president, has made clear over the course of his campaign how proud he is that “as a businessman I want to pay as little tax as possible.”
While it is impossible to assess how much Mr. Trump pays in personal or corporate income taxes, because he has refused to release his tax returns, an examination of his record as a New York developer shows how aggressively he has fought to lower the taxes on his projects.
Mr. Trump successfully sued the administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch after being denied a tax break for Trump Tower, his signature building on Fifth Avenue. Two decades later, in a lawsuit that spanned the administrations of Mayors Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg, he won a similar tax break for Trump World Tower, a building on First Avenue with some of the city’s highest-priced condominiums in 2001.
The tax breaks for those two projects alone totaled $157 million.
The tax break at the 44-story Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle came to $15.9 million.
No possible subsidy was left untapped. After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Mr. Trump lined up a $150,000 grant for one of his buildings near ground zero, taking advantage of a program to help small businesses in the area recover, even though he had acknowledged on the day of the attacks that his building was undamaged.
“Donald Trump is probably worse than any other developer in his relentless pursuit of every single dime of taxpayer subsidies he can get his paws on,” said Alicia Glen, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, who first battled Mr. Trump when she worked in Mr. Giuliani’s administration.
There is much more to this deep dive investigative report.
The latest investigative report today from David Fahrenthold at the Washington Post finds evidence of unlawful self-dealing by the Trump Foundation. Trump used $258,000 from his charity to settle legal problems:
Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.
Those cases, which together used $258,000 from Trump’s charity, were among four newly documented expenditures in which Trump may have violated laws against “self-dealing” — which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.
In one case, from 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club faced $120,000 in unpaid fines from the town of Palm Beach, Fla., resulting from a dispute over the size of a flagpole.
In a settlement, Palm Beach agreed to waive those fines — if Trump’s club made a $100,000 donation to a specific charity for veterans. Instead, Trump sent a check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity funded almost entirely by other people’s money, according to tax records.
In another case, court papers say one of Trump’s golf courses in New York agreed to settle a lawsuit by making a donation to the plaintiff’s chosen charity. A $158,000 donation was made by the Trump Foundation, according to tax records.
The other expenditures involved smaller amounts. In 2013, Trump used $5,000 from the foundation to buy advertisements touting his chain of hotels in programs for three events organized by a D.C. preservation group. And in 2014, Trump spent $10,000 of the foundation’s money for a portrait of himself bought at a charity fundraiser.
Or, rather, another portrait of himself.
Several years earlier, Trump had used $20,000 from the Trump Foundation to buy a different, six foot-tall portrait.
If the Internal Revenue Service were to find that Trump violated self-dealing rules, the agency could require him to pay penalty taxes or to reimburse the foundation for all the money it spent on his behalf. Trump is also facing scrutiny from the office of the New York attorney general, which is examining whether the foundation broke state charity laws.
More broadly, these cases also provide new evidence that Trump ran his charity in a way that may have violated U.S. tax law and gone against the moral conventions of philanthropy.
“I represent 700 nonprofits a year, and I’ve never encountered anything so brazen,” said Jeffrey Tenenbaum, who advises charities at the Venable law firm in Washington. After The Post described the details of these Trump Foundation gifts, Tenenbaum described them as “really shocking.”
“If he’s using other people’s money — run through his foundation — to satisfy his personal obligations, then that’s about as blatant an example of self-dealing [as] I’ve seen in a while,” Tenenbaum said.
The Post sent the Trump campaign a detailed list of questions about the four cases, but received no response.
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[In 2006, Trump] transformed the Trump Foundation into something rarely seen in the world of philanthropy: a name-branded foundation whose namesake provides none of its money. Trump gave relatively small donations in 2007 and 2008, and afterward: nothing. The foundation’s tax records show no donations from Trump since 2009.
Its money has come from other donors, most notably pro-wrestling executives Vince and Linda McMahon, who gave a total of $5 million from 2007 to 2009, tax records show. Trump remains the foundation’s president, and he told the IRS in his latest public filings that he works half an hour per week on the charity.
The Post has previously detailed other cases in which Trump used the charity’s money in a way that appeared to violate the law.
In 2013, for instance, the foundation gave $25,000 to a political group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R). That gift was made around the same time that Bondi’s office was considering whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. It didn’t.
Tax laws say nonprofits such as the Trump Foundation may not make political gifts. Trump staffers blamed the gift on a clerical error. After The Post reported on the gift to Bondi’s group this spring, Trump paid a $2,500 penalty tax and reimbursed the Trump Foundation for the $25,000 donation.
In other instances, it appeared that Trump may have violated rules against self-dealing.
In 2012, for instance, Trump spent $12,000 of the foundation’s money to buy a football helmet signed by NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.
And in 2007, Trump’s wife, Melania, bid $20,000 for the six-foot-tall portrait of Trump, done by a “speed painter” during a charity gala at Mar-a-Lago. Later, Trump paid for the painting with $20,000 from the foundation.
In those cases, tax experts said, Trump was not allowed to simply keep these items and display them in a home or business. They had to be put to a charitable use.
Trump’s campaign has not responded to questions about what became of the helmet or the portrait.
The four new cases of possible self-dealing were discovered in the Trump Foundation’s tax filings. While Trump has refused to release his personal tax returns, the foundation’s filings are required to be public.
Fahrenthold goes into the details of these self-dealing transactions.
Finally, the New York Times reports, Donald Trump Charity Failed to Heed States’ Rules With Veterans Event:
Donald J. Trump boycotted a televised debate in January, instead holding a high-profile charity event for veterans in Iowa that helped raise millions of dollars from donors around the country.
But Mr. Trump’s charitable foundation, the organization through which many of the donations were made, did not take a basic legal step that nonprofit experts say is required of charities when they hold fund-raisers that may draw donors from many states.
Some 40 states require registration by charities raising money within their borders. But the Donald J. Trump Foundation does not show up in the charity registers of 38 of those states. The foundation has long been registered in New York, its home state.
Failure to register in a state before a fund-raiser is not considered a grave misstep in the nonprofit sector, charity specialists say. The omission can usually be rectified if the organization registers later.
Still, the Clinton Foundation, associated with Mr. Trump’s campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton, appears to be registered in nearly all the states, according to a search of state charity records. And the failure of a prominent charity like the Trump Foundation to register could raise questions about the efficiency of its operations.
“There is a legal requirement for charities to register, not in every state, but in most states, before they start soliciting,” said Sandra Miniutti, the chief financial officer of Charity Navigator, an organization that rates charities.
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Charities have to register in states where they raise money so that officials there are aware of their activities. The charities may also have to make financial filings with the state in which they register. The process helps make charities more accountable to donors at the state level.
“Laws are for losers! I’m Donald J. Trump — the laws don’t apply to me!“