State Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla ruled Thursday that President Donald Trump must pay $2 million to a charity to settle a lawsuit that claimed he and his family illegally managed his charitable foundation.
Former New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood first filed a lawsuit against Trump, his three oldest children, and the Trump foundation, in June 2018. The lawsuit accuses the Trump family of mismanaging the foundation in several ways, including using the charity to advance Trump’s self interests and boost his 2016 presidential campaign.
The suit particularly focuses an Iowa fundraiser that Trump held as counter programming to a Republican presidential debate he skipped. His campaign staff organized the event and decided where the funds went. When Trump issued enlarged checks to the veteran organizations that the charity was making donations to, they had his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan at the bottom.
This goes against a New York law that forbids charities from participating in political events.
The suit further accuses the Trump Foundation board of being largely nonexistent and claims that it lets Trump decide when and where contributions are made.
Trump and Underwood came to an agreement in December to settle many of the lawsuit’s claims. The Attorney General’s office pushed for Trump to pay an additional $2.8 to settle the Iowa claims and more for punitive damages.
Judge Scarpulla, however, decided against awarding the full amount and ordered Trump to pay $2 million because the money raised from the fundraiser did in fact go to veteran’s charities.
Trump’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, said that lawsuit was politically motivated and praised Scarpulla for rejecting the Attorney General’s push for additional damages.
“We are pleased that the Court, in rejecting the Attorney General’s frivolous request for statutory penalties, interest and other damages, recognized that every penny ever raised by the Trump Foundation has gone to help those most in need,” Futerfas said. “Now that this matter is concluded, the Trump Foundation is proud to make this additional contribution.”
“Mr. Trump’s fiduciary duty breaches included allowing his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign,” Scarpulla wrote in her decision Thursday.