President-elect Donald Trump says he will dissolve his charitable foundation before taking office to avoid conflicts of interest. The Democratic Party says that’s not enough and is calling for the billionaire businessman to put his assets in a blind trust.
The New York attorney general’s office has been investigating the foundation following media reports that foundation spending went to benefit Trump’s campaign. A spokeswoman says the foundation cannot close until the investigation is complete.
Trump said in a statement Saturday that he has directed his counsel to take the necessary steps to implement the dissolution of the Donald J Trump Foundation, saying that it operated “at essentially no cost for decades, with 100% of the money going to charity.”
The Democratic National Committee criticized Trump for what it called “a wilted fig leaf to cover up his remaining conflicts of interest and his pitiful record of charitable giving.”
The statement from party spokesman Eric Walker also took a jab at the president-elect over his controversial business holdings: “Shuttering a charity is no substitute for divesting from his for-profit business and putting the assets in a blind trust — the only way to guarantee separation between the Trump administration and the Trump business.”
The Trump Foundation, which was established in 1988, runs no programs of its own. Instead, it donates to other nonprofit groups such as the Police Athletic League for youths.
Family faced criticism
Scrutiny of the Trump family’s philanthropic activities heightened in recent weeks following reports of access to the family for potential donors.
Eric Trump faced criticism for an online auction sponsored by his foundation, which raises money to help terminally ill children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, offering the highest bidder a chance to have coffee with his sister Ivanka.
After the announcement that Eric would not be allowed to raise money for his foundation, Trump tweeted: “He loves these kids, has raised millions of dollars for them, and now must stop. Wrong answer!”
Trump’s critics, however, remembered how the president-elect had attacked his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, over their family foundation. In August, Trump urged the Justice Department to investigate the Clinton Foundation, which he called a “pay-to-play” operation that rewarded big donors with favors from the State Department while Clinton was secretary of state.
Eric Trump and his brother Donald Trump Jr. also came under fire this week for their role in a post-inauguration charity event that offered a private reception with their father in exchange for a $1 million donation.
The brothers were listed on a draft invitation as honorary co-chairmen of the fundraiser for conservation charities, dubbed “Opening Day,” set to be held in Washington the day after the Jan. 20 inauguration.
On Tuesday, the Trump transition team said Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump were not involved with the fundraiser and a subsequent invitation dropped references to donors meeting with any members of the Trump family.