Donald Trump began and ended a 2014 auction at his Mar-a-Lago resort when he offered to pay $10,000 from his personal charitable foundation for a six-foot oil portrait of himself. “No one else bid,” attorney Alan Futerfas told a New York judge on Thursday, so “he’s stuck with the painting.”
By Trump offering his own account, Futerfas believes this is one of several reasons why New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation should be dismissed. He also stated that all transactions regarding the case were either corrected by the charity or they have ‘innocent explanations.’
Trump’s lawyer claims it is “troubling” that Underwood is quite focused on a payment that benefits a charity who aids children and young adults with developmental disabilities. He continued, claiming the suit is politically biased and is part of an effort by Democrats to damage Trump’s presidency.
However, Underwood believes Trump’s nonprofit was more than his “piggy bank,” and authorized donations were even “overshadowed by rampant violations of state charity law and the use of donated funds for business purposes.” Bloomberg adds that she desires to ban the president from serving on a New York not-for-profit for 10 years, which would further assist in attempting to dissolve the charity.
“It is beyond dispute that these were improper self-dealing transactions,” Yael Fuchs, a lawyer for the attorney general, said at the hearing.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla did not make a ruling by the end of the hearing, and shut down all political bias by Underwood, saying, “I don’t want to get into that.”
Instead, the case will focus on Underwood’s claims regarding campaign finance violations and the various transactions by the Trump Foundation, including the portrait acquisition. Underwood believes Trump first and foremost, misused charity money to purchase the painting. Then, he gained even further benefits from the work when the Trump Organization placed the piece in Trump’s hotel in Doral, Florida.
“This was improper self-dealing, since foundation money was used to buy a painting to decorate a Trump business property,” the attorney general said in a court filing.
Futerfas claims otherwise however, stating the portrait was presented in the hotel because the staff discovered it in a storage room and didn’t realize it belonged to the charity. Soon after the election of President Trump, the hotel returned the painting to the charity and paid it $185.82 plus interest as a fair rental value.
Aside from this particular violation, the attorney general accused the foundation of illegally participating in a political campaign by enabling senior campaign staff to mandate how $2.8 million raised at the event was spent, “all for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election.”
According to the judge, she can’t make a final decision on the case until after an appeals court rules in a different case on whether Trump has presidential immunity from litigation in state courts. In that lawsuit, former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos accused Trump of slander for denying all allegations that he groped her.