A left-leaning advocacy group has filed a complaint against Donald Trump with the Internal Revenue Service accusing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee of violating the law for using money from his tax-exempt charitable foundation to buy an autographed football helmet and jersey from NFL player Tim Tebow.
Trump reportedly bought the Denver Broncos helmet and jersey for $12,000 at a fundraising auction in 2012 to benefit the Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity, according to the Washington Post. However, the money came from Trump’s own charitable foundation, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which he founded in 1987 but has not personally contributed to since 2008. Trump’s foundation is predominantly funded by contributions from outside donors and he frequently passes out checks from the foundation to various charities.
The American Democracy Legal Fund, a liberal watchdog group that was established to hold candidates for political offices accountable for possible ethics or legal violations, has filed a series of complaints and legal challenges against Trump and other Republicans in recent years, mostly with the Federal Election Commission. In the latest complaint, the group filed a complaint with the IRS against Trump.
“In clear violation of the law prohibiting private foundation managers from sanctioning self-dealing, Mr. Donald J. Trump, president of the Foundation and unmistakably a ‘disqualified person,’ engaged in self-dealing with the Foundation when he used Foundation assets to ‘furnish goods’ for himself,” said a letter from the group Monday. “Specifically, Mr. Trump purchased a football helmet for himself at a charity auction in 2012. Thus, Mr. Trump erred not only in allowing the foundation to engage in self-dealing, but was himself the self-dealer in the transaction.”
The group argues that Trump is liable for excise taxes for the act of self-dealing even if he “had no knowledge at the time of the act that such act constituted self-dealing.”
Tebow-autographed football gear has since declined in market value after his team was defeated in the NFL playoffs by the New England Patriots on the same night as the January 2012 auction, and a similar helmet and jersey would sell together today for approximately $415 online, according to the Post. Trump’s son Eric told the Post he believes his father probably ended up giving away the Tebow gear to a child.
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