No, this blog isn’t going to be about Primadonald’s dalliances with Marla Maples when he was married to Ivana, or with Melanie when he was wed to Marla. No, this is all about the man’s “dance” right up to and even across the line that separates the lawful and the illegal. The following four synopses highlight the Republican candidate’s ethical/legal challenges.

Trump University

To even use the word “university” in labeling this sham operation does violence to reality. More accurately, it was very much like a “bait and bait some more” scheme. Enrollees were given to understand that wealth awaited them if they would sign up, pay their tuition and soak up every word of Primadonald’s personally selected tutors. Once in, the ante was upped to lure the unsuspecting into advanced classes and seminars. NY Attorney General Eric Schneidermann has labelled all this a clear case of fraud, and takes the case to trial this November 28th. Look for Primadonald to be subpoenaed along with his cadre of “salesmen”.

Misuse of Trump Charitable Foundation funds

As reported by David Fahernthold in the Washington Post (1), Primadonald took $258,000. from his charity and used it to settle some of his myriad personal legal problems. This self-serving behavior is against the law, and is now a matter is under investigation by the aforementioned Eric Schneiderman.

The Trump Charitable Foundation’s failure to get certified

Once again, we look to the investigative work by David Fahrenthold in the Washington Post for this story. Specifically, the State of  New York’s laws covering charitable foundations require that all such entities must pass through a vetting process that leads to their being certified and thereafter, to legitimately collect donations. Primadonald’s Foundation did not meet that requirement before accepting  contributions, only complying after monies had started to arrive (2). Here is yet another matter that is under investigation. If guilt is established,  the Foundation may have to pay a fine, return the dollars collected and/or lose their certification.

The violation of the US trade embargo against Cuba

Another investigative reporter, Eric Eichenwald by name, published in Newsweek, an account of “How Donald Trump’s Company Violated the United States’ Embargo on Cuba” (3).

Recall that back in the late 1950’s/early ’60’s out government concluded that Fidel Castro has betrayed the Cuban revolution, turning that country away from democracy towards Communism. In reaction, what passed through our Congress was an embargo on all US trade with the island-nation. This legislation was so severe that our citizens were prohibited from doing so much as spending money to Cuba.

Now, fast-forward to 1999. Then, Primadonald running as a presidential candidate for the Reform Party, held a political rally in Florida in front of a crowd populated by many Castro-hating, Cuban ex-patriots. In a video-tape that is now starting to get wide play, Trump is seen/heard telling the assemblage that he would “never” send money to their former homeland because Castro was a “murderer (and) killer”.

Reporter Eichenwald, found records showing that in the same year as Primadonald was speechifying, he had representatives in Cuba looking for deals for their boss. This clearly involved expenditures in blatant violation of the embargo. It does not matter at all, that nothing came out of this exploration. There was illegal spending.

Now, there is no question that a law was broken. That it happened 17 years ago is meaningful because a fact-check revealed that a prosecution is not possible owing to the statute of limitations having been reached and passed several years’ ago. That said, why does this matter?

The answer is purely political:  Trump needs to win Florida’s electoral college votes if he is to improve his chances of gaining the presidency. One must wonder how news of his 1999 business in Cuba juxtaposed his damning of Castro (see above) will play with Cuban-American voters in that state this November? The odds are “Not well”. As a matter of fact, the most recent polling in the Sunshine State shows that HRC has opened up a lead there that is just a fraction outside polls’ margin of error.

Summary

There are the four cases in synoptic form. For those interested in more in-depth understanding of them, the following footnotes will lead you to relevant sources, and Google searches are always helpful. What remains to be seen is how the first three cases play out in our legal system and in our electoral politics. As always, stay tuned.

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  1. Farhenthold, David; “Trump used $258,000. from his charity to settle legal problems”. Washington Post, 9-20-16.
  2. Fahrenthold, David; “Trump Foundation lacks the certification requirement for charities that solicit money”. Washington Post, 9-29-16.
  3. Eichenwald, Eric; “How Trump’s company violated the United States’ embargo on Cuba”. Newsweek, 9-29-16.

 

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