New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman has opened an investigation into Donald Trump's charity, the Trump Foundation, and ordered it to stop raising money in New York because it's not registered there. Sharyl recently had the chance to ask Trump about it.
Sharyl Attkisson: Are you confident that the Trump Foundation has followed all charitable rules and laws?
Donald Trump: Well I hope so. I mean, my lawyers do it. We give away money. I don't make anything, I take no salaries, I take no, any costs. I have zero costs. And a lot of money goes through the Trump Foundation into charities. Goes to charities, doesn't go to me, goes to charities.
The Trump campaign says it's cooperating with the investigation.
The Clinton Foundation remains under fire for allegedly taking millions from donors to influence Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, which she denies. Emails just published by Wikileaks show some interviewees told Clinton Foundation auditors, donors "may have an expectation of quid pro quo benefits in return for gift[s]."
In the meantime, there are accounting questions going back to Hurricane Katrina.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina one of America's deadliest devastated parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Americans poured out their hearts in the form of donations and ex-Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton joined to raise funds for victims.
Bill Clinton: The best way to help now is to make a cash donation.
What most people don't know is: The Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund hadn't yet been set up as a non-profit under IRS rules. So the former presidents temporarily divided up the donations and held them in their own existing charities. President Bush's Greater Houston Community Foundation and The Clinton Foundation.
Three months after the storm, in December 2005, President Clinton announced more than $110 million had been raised and money was still coming in. But when the official Katrina Fund was finally set up, ledgers show the Presidents' charities transferred less than $80 million. $52.3 million from the Bush charity and a month later, about half that from The Clinton Foundation: $27.4 million.
That's over $30 million dollars short of what Clinton said had been raised.
The Bush charity told us that’s because a lot of the donations hadn’t actually been collected more than 4 months after they were announced.
The charities haven’t released records showing how much money came in when, and from whom, citing donor privacy Dean Zerbe is a tax expert and former Senior Counsel on the Senate Finance Committee who's conducted oversight of charity finances.
Sharyl Attkisson: What are the questions you would like answered in this scenario?
Dean Zerbe: I think the key questions are pretty fundamental. I want a complete accounting of all the monies you got in. Maybe it's one rule just charities in general but when you're a charity run by presidents, using their name, and the President calls on people to donate, it's belt and suspender time. You really need gotta have everybody saying, they're doing it right. Because it really reflects faith and confidence in charities which are such an important institution of our country.
There's another apparent discrepancy in the Clinton Foundation's 2005 annual report. It says, approximately $128.4 million had been received to date from all 50 states and $30.9 million from foreign countries for the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. That would be about $160 million.
But according to tax documents, only $129 million ended up in the Katrina Fund.
The Clinton Foundation declined to answer our questions to clarify issues. A Foundation source previously told me there's no money missing, but its annual report "probably could have been characterized differently" because the wording made it seem like there was $30 million more than was actually collected.
Sharyl Attkisson: The idea that there are what appear to be discrepancies, absent some other explanation, doesn't necessarily mean anything nefarious happened. But does it tell you anything about a charity that they could be off in $30 million when they're making reports to the public?
Dean Zerbe: It certainly doesn't make me more confident about what's going on. But you're right, it could be innocent and people aren't perfect, I get all that. But to me it goes to a core point that I think that that folks who donated, the millions of Americans, and of course the hundreds of thousands of poor people in New Orleans. I think really at the end of the day, and thanks to your good reporting, they deserve to have a full accounting, be it from the GAO or from Congress, of what did happen with this money so that there's no questions or no uncertainties.
In case you're wondering where the Bush-Clinton Katrina donations end up? $40 million dollars was given to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama for their recovery and relief funds, $30 million went to colleges and $20 million dollars to churches.