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Friday, September 09, 2016

Trump Charity gives to character assassination organizations

by digby

People who know my blogging know that I've been writing about David Bossie and Citizens United for many, many years. He's recently been hired by the Trump campaign as the deputy campaign manager after having run the "Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC" after Kellyann Conway left. I wrote about him two years ago for Salon.

Michael Isikoff has a very interesting new scoop:

Donald Trump’s charitable foundation gave $100,000 in 2014 to a conservative activist group that was used to help finance a federal lawsuit against New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — the same public official who was suing the real estate mogul for fraud over the operations of Trump University.

The size and timing of the donation to the Citizens United Foundation, an arm of the sprawling conservative network run by David Bossie, who is now Trump’s deputy campaign manager, could raise fresh questions about whether Trump has used his tax-exempt charity to further political and personal causes.
A review of tax returns filed by the Trump Foundation shows that the 2014 donation to Bossie’s Citizens United Foundation was by far the largest it gave to any organization that year, substantially exceeding its contributions to more traditional charities, such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (which got $50,000), the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ($25,000) and the Police Athletic League ($25,000).

It was also the first time the Citizens United Foundation had ever received funding from Trump’s charity.

While the donation to Bossie’s group has been mentioned in some media accounts, what has gone unnoticed until now is a major project of Citizens United at the time: a lawsuit it filed that year — since dismissed by a federal judge — against Schneiderman, New York’s Democratic attorney general, over his efforts to require nonprofit groups such as Citizens United to disclose the identity of their donors under seal to the New York State Charities Bureau.

Schneiderman by then had become a major political nemesis of Trump. In 2013, Schneiderman had filed his own lawsuit, still pending in New York state courts, accusing Trump of ripping off students at Trump University through fraudulent and deceptive trade practices, promising to teach them to “make a killing” in the real estate market but, according to the suit, delivering courses that had little if any value.

Trump, in response, launched a public relations and legal counterattack against Schneiderman. He accused him in a Twitter barrage of being a “lightweight hack” who brought the suit for political purposes. He filed a complaint against Schneiderman with the New York ethics agency (since dismissed) over donations the attorney general had solicited from his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, while his office was investigating Trump University. Trump, in a later interview, described Schneiderman as “a low-life, a sleazebag” who was part of a “cesspool of corruption” in New York politics.

The attack on Schneiderman’s tactics was soon reinforced in the lawsuit filed by Citizens United and the Citizens United Foundation on May 24, 2014, by the lawyer for both groups, Donald F. McGahn, a Republican campaign finance attorney and former Federal Election Commission chair who is now the chief counsel for the Trump presidential campaign. [...]

Bossie charged — in a press release still displayed on the Citizens United Foundation website — that he brought the suit because the “First Amendment was under attack by the New York Attorney General.” In court documents, he asserted that major donors had pulled back from donating to his organizations because they feared their identities would become public if Citizens United submitted its list of donors to Schneiderman’s office and this had infringed on Citizens United’s constitutional right to criticize the New York attorney general. As an example, Bossie submitted a draft fundraising appeal that he said he was unable to send out, due to the fears expressed by his donors, that accused Schneiderman of being an “out of control tyrant.” (Another draft fundraising appeal submitted by Bossie in the lawsuit solicited funds for another film that would expose “the real, ruthless Hillary Clinton” and how she left “four Americans to die in Benghazi.”

David Bossie is a highly paid Republican character assassin. That's what he does. He's been doing it for 25 years. This money was not given to him to further any other cause because he has no other cause. His concern for the 1st Amendment is entirely in service of his primary goal which is to assassinate the characters of Democratic politicians.

It occurs to me that there's something special about Trump University. Trump's been sued thousands of times by many people over a variety of projects. This one seems to have really upset him and he pulled out all the stops to interfere from buying off Attorney Generals to rudely attacking one of the judges hearing the case. Why has this particular lawsuit gotten him so exercised?