Donald Trump has been told to pay £1.56 million ($2 million) to a group of charities after misusing charity cash to boost his 2016 campaign.
The US President reportedly broke charity rules by using donations from a Trump Foundation fundraiser for military veterans in January 2016 on his campaign.
Justice Saliann Scarpulla, of New York’s Supreme Court, said Trump did not have to repay the £2.2m ($2.82 million) total raised at the Iowa event because the cash had eventually made its way to charities for veterans.
Instead he ordered him to hand over £1.56m ($2m), deeming that he had “breached his fiduciary duty to the foundation”.
Yesterday’s judgement stated that the £2.2m ($2.82m) gathered at the fundraiser “was used for Mr. Trump’s political campaign and disbursed by Mr. Trump’s campaign staff, rather than by the Foundation”, according to NPR .
Letitia James, the Attorney General of New York, said her office has also reached agreements with the foundation and its directors to end the June 2018 lawsuit, which was filed by her predecessor, Barbara Underwood.
Ms James said Trump admitted to “personally misusing funds at the Trump Foundation,” and accepted limits on his activities if he created a new charity.
She added that Trump’s children – Donald Junior, Eric and Ivanka – agreed to “mandatory training” on the duties of charity officials.
“The court’s decision, together with the settlements we negotiated, are a major victory in our efforts to protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain,” Ms James said in a statement.
Mrs Underwood had filed suit after a 21-month probe that she said uncovered “extensive unlawful political coordination” between the Trump Foundation and Trump’s campaign.
The lawsuit sought to recoup £2.2m ($2.82m) donated to the foundation in a 2016 Iowa fundraiser for military veterans, but which Mrs Underwood said Trump allowed his campaign to control.
“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,” she wrote.
The judge said that because the money ultimately went to support veterans, Trump should pay just £1.56m ($2m), without interest, rather than the entire £2.2m ($2.82m).
In refusing to award punitive damages, Scarpulla cited Trump’s agreement to take steps to avoid a recurrence.
The £1.56m ($2m) is expected to go to Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, City Meals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, the United Negro College Fund, the United Way of the National Capital Area and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The President tweeted : “I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity ($19M), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State.
“No wonder we are all leaving! Every penny of the $19m (£14.8m) raised by the Trump Foundation went to hundreds of great charitable causes with almost no expenses.”