Group Led by Clinton Backer Files Trump Complaint With IRS

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said the Republican presidential front-runner's foundation gave to Florida's attorney general.

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Donald Trump pauses while speaking to members of the media after the Republican presidential debate in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Jan. 15, 2016.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

A Washington-based watchdog group is taking aim at Donald Trump, accusing his foundation of making political contributions that may have violated its status as a tax-exempt charity.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, said that The Donald J. Trump Foundation in September 2013 contributed $25,000 to a political group associated with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, according to a complaint filed with the Internal Revenue Service Monday.

Tax law prohibits charitable organizations from engaging in political activities, including contributing funds to candidates, parties or political action committees. According to CREW, Trump's foundation did not disclose the contribution on its 2013 tax return, on which it declared that it had engaged in no prohibited political activities.

Neither Trump nor his foundation has been accused of any wrongdoing. A phone call to the foundation wasn't answered, and Trump's campaign didn't immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment. Whitney Ray, a spokesman for Bondi, declined immediate comment on the donation.

"The IRS needs to look into this," CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. "It is a serious problem if charitable foundations are used to influence politics."

David Brock, who leads American Bridge and Correct the Record -- two Super-PACs that support Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign -- is the chairman of CREW's board.

According to CREW, at the time of the foundation's contribution, Bondi was considering whether Florida should file a lawsuit similar to one that had been filed in New York, accusing the billionaire developer and his Trump Entrepreneur Institute, previously known as Trump University, of defrauding students.

Bondi's office decided against filing its own lawsuit. The office had received only one complaint at the time, according to Ray, Bondi's spokesman. After reviewing it, Bondi's office referred it to the attorney general in New York. "Their lawsuit sought relief for any and all aggrieved customers nationwide," Ray said.

Trump, who also hosted a fundraiser for Bondi in March 2014 at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, received Bondi's endorsement for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this month, days before Florida's winner-take-all primary.

 

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