Watchdog Group Renews Questions About Trump Contribution

By Kenneth P. Doyle

June 8 — A report that Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was asked for a contribution in 2013 by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has renewed legal questions about the $25,000 given by Trump's foundation to a political group backing Bondi, according to the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

“Bondi’s admission that she personally solicited a donation from Donald Trump directly contradicts the Trump camp’s version of events,” said a statement from Noah Bookbinder, CREW's executive director. “Their claims that they did not know how the Bondi-backing group got the money and their implication that Bondi made the request of the Trump Organization and not Trump himself raise further questions, including how another organization was listed as receiving the donation on their taxes.”

Bondi's solicitation of a contribution from Trump was first reported by the Associated Press. The contribution was given at a time when Bondi was considering joining a lawsuit against a Trump enterprise called Trump University, which has been accused of defrauding those who paid for training in the real estate business. Bondi opted not to join the litigation.

IRS Action Unknown

Questions first were raised in March about the Donald J. Trump Foundation contribution to a tax code Section 527 organization called And Justice for All, which supported Bondi's re-election in 2014. A complaint filed by CREW with the Internal Revenue Service asked the agency to investigate whether the transaction violated rules against political contributions by a charity, as well as whether reporting rules were violated (55 DTR G-1, 3/22/16).

The IRS doesn't comment on such complaints, citing taxpayer privacy laws. It is unclear whether the agency will act on the matter.

CREW spokesman Jordan Libowitz told Bloomberg BNA in a June 8 phone interview that the IRS has acknowledged receiving CREW's complaint but has said nothing further. Libowitz noted reports that Trump's organization previously acknowledged errors in how the contribution was initially reported on tax forms and said it would work with the IRS to resolve any problems.

CREW has links to Trump's likely opponent in the 2016 presidential campaign, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. David Brock, the watchdog group's chairman, heads super PACs supporting Clinton's candidacy.

Need for Investigation

In the latest CREW statement, Bookbinder referred to CREW's earlier IRS complaint regarding “the Trump Foundation’s illegal $25,000 contribution to support Bondi’s election.”

He added: “If the contribution was made or solicited to influence an official decision, it would be an even more serious violation of the law. This reaffirms the need for an immediate and thorough investigation.”

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at