By Ian Simpson
(Reuters) – New York’s attorney general is looking into a report that the Eric Trump Foundation funneled more than $1 million from charity golf tournaments into President Donald Trump’s business, a spokesman for the attorney general said on Friday.
Forbes magazine reported this week that the charity run by Eric Trump, the president’s second-oldest son, paid the Trump Organization to use its properties for charity events in recent years even though Eric Trump had told donors that the golf course and other assets were being used for free, so that just about all the money donated would help sick children.
Forbes reported that based on filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, more than $1.2 million “has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization.”
Eric Soufer, a spokesman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said in an email that his office was looking into issues raised by the Forbes story.
Soufer did not immediately respond to a later request for details about the examination.
The Democratic attorney general’s office already is investigating allegations of self-dealing at the Donald J. Trump Foundation, the Republican president’s charity.
Trump, a New York real estate developer, said in December that he would dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation, but Schneiderman’s office has said it could not be wound down while the investigation was ongoing.
Forbes also reported that although donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told all its money was going to help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, fight pediatric cancer, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities.
Many of those charities “were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses,” Forbes said.
Amanda Miller, who works for the Trump Organization and who identified herself in an emailed response to a Reuters query as a “spokesperson for Eric Trump,” said the Eric Trump Foundation would cooperate fully with Schneiderman’s office.
Eric Trump is executive vice president of development and acquisition for the Trump Organization.
“During the past decade, the Eric Trump Foundation has raised over $16.3 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, including more than $3.6 million to St. Jude and other worthwhile causes just in 2016 alone,” Miller said in the email.
Eric Trump said in a tweet on Thursday that he had raised the money for St. Jude with an expense ratio of less than 12.3 percent. “Let’s not politicize pediatric cancer,” he said.
On his foundation’s website, Eric Trump said he had ceased direct fundraising efforts at the end of 2016 “in order to avoid the appearance or assertion of any impropriety and/or a conflict of interest.”
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Leslie Adler)