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Trump will close foundation for appearance of conflict

DetroitNews-Unknown

Donald Trump said he intends to dissolve his charitable foundation to resolve concerns about possible ethics conflicts.

“To avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as President I have decided to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways,” the president-elect said in a statement on Saturday.

“The foundation has done enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups, including supporting veterans, law enforcement officers and children,” Trump said.

Trump’s foundation has been investigated by New York’s attorney general since telling the Internal Revenue Service that it violated rules preventing leaders of nonprofit organizations from using a charity’s money to benefit themselves or other “disqualified” people. The admission comes after the Washington Post reported that Trump used foundation money to pay for legal settlements, including a dispute over an oversized flagpole at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Much of that focus on the foundation has been on its practice of collecting and donating money from other people.

Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said on Twitter that the foundation "cannot legally dissolve until investigation complete."

Necessary Steps

Trump has directed his counsel to take the necessary steps to accomplish the dissolution, his transition team said in the statement. The statement didn’t specify if that will occur before Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20.

Some good-government groups say Trump’s move won’t end their concerns.

“The announcement that the foundation will be shut down is a necessary first step for the incoming administration to avoid massive ethics problems,” Noah Bookbinder, executive director of the Washington based-Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said in an e-mail.

“The foundation’s past instances of wrongdoing must be fully investigated and president-elect Trump must sell his businesses and take comprehensive steps to prevent conflicts of interest for him and his administration,” Bookbinder said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net.