U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump is under fire once again. This time, it’s not because of his comments, but rather, his controversial use of charity funds to settle $258,000 in lawsuits involving his for-profit business, the Washington Post reports.
The cases were among four new documented expenditures that may have violated “self-dealing” laws, which make it illegal for nonprofit leaders to use charity funds for business or personal purposes.
One of those cases was from 2007, when the Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago Club owed the town of Palm Beach, FL $120,000 in unpaid fines over a flagpole height dispute.
The city agreed to waive the fines if Trump’s club agreed to make a $100,000 donation to a particular charity for veterans. Trump agreed, and sent the city a check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
Trump’s charity, according to records, is funded almost entirely by other people.
In a separate case, Trump’s New York golf courses settled a lawsuit by agreeing to make a donation to a charity chosen by the plaintiff. The $158,000 donation was also made by the Trump Foundation, according to tax records.
Trump also used his charity’s money on smaller expenditures, including $20,000 to purchase a six-foot-tall portrait of himself. He also used $12,000 to buy a football helmet signed by Tim Tebow, a former NFL quarterback.
If the IRS finds that Trump has violated self-dealing laws, he may be required to pay penalty taxes or to reimburse the charity for the money spent on himself.
Trump has not donated any money to his foundation since 2009. The charity’s money comes from other donors.
Thus far, the Trump campaign has refused to answer any questions asked by the Washington Post, but did release a statement on the story that said the report was “peppered with inaccuracies and omissions.” The statement did not clarify which pieces of information were inaccurate.