Trump Sued for Using Charity Money to Buy $10K Self-Portrait at Trump Doral

Trump Sued for Using Charity Money to Buy $10K Self-Portrait at Trump Doral
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
Thanks to the incredible work of the Washington Post's David Fahrenthold, Americans learned in September 2016 — two months before the presidential election — that Donald Trump's web of personal charities seemed about as legitimate as vending machine companies run by the Genovese crime family. Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer Prize for doggedly tracking how Trump, among other things, used a quarter-million dollars from his charity to settle lawsuits involving his for-profit corporations.

Fahrenthold disclosed that Trump used $10,000 in charity funds in 2014 to buy a gigantic painting of his own dumb face, which hung at the Trump National Doral Miami golf club. And now the president has been hit with an absolutely colossal lawsuit filed by the New York state attorney general for, among other things, buying a garish painting of his own visage, as well as making payments to settle lawsuits against his Mar-a-Lago club and other Trump golf courses.

The suit seeks to dissolve the Trump Foundation and bar the president and his children from serving on nonprofit boards. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood also sent complaints to the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission and asked those agencies to review the information for possible violations of the law. Underwood's office also found that the Trump Foundation illegally raised $2.8 million "in a manner designed to influence the 2016 presidential election" and demands that the foundation pay that money back.

As for the portrait at Trump's Doral golf course, this scandal is unquestionable proof that we live in the stupidest political time imaginable.

"On March 20, 2014, Mr. Trump caused the Foundation to pay $10,000 for the winning bid on a painting of Mr.
Trump at a charity auction for the Unicorn Children's Foundation, a Section 501(c)(3) organization," the lawsuit, filed today, reads. "The Trump Organization used the painting at Trump National Doral Miami, an entity owned by Trump Endeavor 12 LLC, which is owned by Mr. Trump. The Investigation concluded that the payment of $10,000 was used to benefit an organization controlled by the director of the Foundation and constituted improper self-dealing."

Amazingly, once the New York AG's office (at that time led by since-accused-women-abuser Eric Schneiderman) began investigating Trump's foundations November 17, 2016, the Trump Doral magically "gave" the painting back to the Trump Foundation. The suit says the Trump Doral (which is owned by a shell company called Trump Endeavor 2 LLC) then paid Trump's own foundation $182.82 for a "fair rental" price and about $27 in back taxes on the painting for 2014 and 2015.

Images of the Trump Doral painting have been floating around the internet for years. It's pretty clear the only people who would pay ten grand for this sucker are Trump, Sean Hannity, and maybe Trump's second wife, Marla Maples, if she was in the mood to run a monster truck over something:
The 41-page lawsuit is a whopper of a document: It builds on all the reporting Fahrenthold did with the Post to paint a picture of a family both stupid and overconfident enough to believe that nobody would ever look into its business transactions. In addition to raising a red flag about the $10,000 payment for the painting, the suit claims Trump and his kids used $100,000 in charity money in 2007 to settle a dispute at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.

The suit also accuses the Trump Foundation of illegally functioning as an arm of Trump's 2016 political campaign. The New York AG's office says former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski regularly emailed the foundation and directed its actions during the runup to the 2016 election.
Naturally, our big, salty president has been tweeting angrily about the suit:

"The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000," Trump fired off at 10:09 a.m. today. "I won’t settle this case!"
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.