News out of Albany today is that the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance is investigating whether The Trump Foundation violated state tax laws. If that’s found to be the case, the findings could be presented to a grand jury as part of a criminal proceeding against the foundation and its operators.
The Trump Foundation is also under attack by New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who filed a lawsuit against the organization last month claiming the foundation violated campaign finance laws, illegally coordinated activities with the Trump presidential campaign, and engaged in a variety of self-dealing activities. In conjunction with that lawsuit, the AG is seeking to dissolve the Trump Foundation, recover millions of dollars in restitution, and bar President Trump and three of his children from serving in leadership positions of any nonprofit entity in New York State.
I don’t know anything about the facts that led the AG to file the lawsuit against the Trump Foundation – or the facts that led to the newly-announced investigation of that foundation by Taxation & Finance. I do know that both those state agencies previously declined to undertake an investigation of NXIVM/ESP and the numerous foundations operated by Clare Bronfman and Sara Bronfman-Igtet.
Several years ago, Joe O’Hara met for hours with high-ranking members of the Department of Taxation & Finance – and turned over a trove of records that documented some of the illegal financial activities that were being undertaken at that time by NXIVM/ESP and its various spin-off companies (At that time, Joe estimated that NXIVM/ESP and the Bronfmans owed at least $20 million in unpaid taxes). Following the meeting, he sent additional documentation and materials to the Taxation & Finance officials – and offered to meet with them again to answer any questions. The response from Taxation & Finance: NOTHING. No return phone call, no follow-up meeting, etc. NOTHING.
Similarly, Joe and Toni Natalie tried several years ago to get the Office of the New York State Attorney General to undertake an investigation of NXIVM/ESP and the Bronfmans (Andrew Cuomo was AG at the time). Two Assistant AGs were assigned to work with them – well, at least to start to work with them.
After several conference calls, the two Assistant AGs asked if Joe and Toni had any proof to back-up their claims about the financial crimes they alleged were being committed by NXIVM/ESP and the Bronfmans. When they sent the first batch of materials – which included specific details about all the companies that were being used to launder money coming from Mexico – Joe and Toni got back an email response from the two Assistant AGs saying: “Please don‘t send us any more material”. After that, NOTHING. No return calls, no response to emails, etc. NOTHING.
It’s interesting to see the Department of Taxation & Finance and the NYS Attorney General take an aggressive role in investigating The Trump Foundation. Yet I wonder why they were reluctant to undertake an investigation of NXIVM/ESP and the Bronfmans. Had they done so, perhaps thousands of people would not have been conned out of their hard-earned money, NXIVM/ESP and the Bronfmans may not have been able to launder millions of dollars from Mexico, and perhaps no women would have been branded with Keith Raniere’s initials.
The road not taken…