Trump Used His Companies To Mask Political Donations To Another Florida Attorney General

Three of Trump's companies each contributed the maximum to Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist in his 2006 campaign for governor.

WASHINGTON ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump used companies he controlled to donate more than was legally allowed to the 2006 Florida gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Charlie Crist, according to a review of state campaign finance records by The Huffington Post.

The four contributions from Trump and his companies totaled $2,000 for Crist’s campaign at a time when the maximum campaign contribution allowed by an individual or a corporation was $500. At the time, Trump did not disclose that the donations all came from him, and regulators did not identify the companies as being part of Trump’s real estate empire.

The contributions included $500 from Trump himself; $500 from 40 Wall Street LLC, a company Trump controls; $500 from VH Property Corp DBA Trump National Golf Course, a Trump company that operates mainly in California; and $500 from Wollman Rink Operations LLC, a company Trump created to manage an ice skating rink in Manhattan’s Central Park.

The four contributions were first identified by the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, a group supporting Trump’s rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump identified all three companies as under his control in his personal financial disclosure report to the Office of Government Ethics, filed in the summer of 2015. 

A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond on Friday to questions from The Huffington Post. At the time of the gifts, Crist was a Republican, but in recent years the former governor has run as an Independent and as a Democrat. 

The donations from Trump appear to be the latest example of the Republican nominee using his maze of business interests and corporations to get around laws that limit how much one individual or company can donate to a particular political campaign. 

During the GOP primary campaign, Trump bragged about how he used campaign contributions to effectively buy political support for his business interests. “When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me,” Trump said.

But Trump’s cavalier attitude towards election law has repeatedly gotten him into trouble with regulators, and sometimes resulted in serious fines. In the 1980s, Trump admitted to using his web of companies to contribute tens of thousands of dollars beyond the legal limit to the campaign of the chairman of the New York City Council. And in 1993, Trump paid a $15,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission for exceeding the legal limit of contributions to federal candidates. 

More recently, Trump has come under fire for using his tax-exempt nonprofit, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, to give $25,000 to a PAC supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s reelection bid. Such donations violate nonprofit tax laws, and Trump was fined $2,500. 

The donation to Bondi was made during a short window of time in September of 2013 when Bondi’s office was deciding whether to investigate Trump University, the Republican nominee’s now-shuttered seminar program.

Trump is facing lawsuits in multiple states alleging that the company defrauded customers. Bondi, however, decided not to pursue legal claims against Trump over Trump University.

Trump later hosted a fundraiser for Bondi at his home in Palm Beach in March 2014. He held a similar fundraising event for Crist in June 2005 in Manhattan, helping to introduce the attorney general to wealthy New Yorkers. 

A 2005 Associated Press story in the St Petersburg Times detailed the fundraiser Trump would hold for Florida gubernatorial c
A 2005 Associated Press story in the St Petersburg Times detailed the fundraiser Trump would hold for Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.