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Fall 2016

Money, Elections and Taxes Make the Head Spin NYTimes reports that Eric T. Schneiderman and his office are looking into presumptive presidential candidate Donald J. Trump’s nonprofit foundation. While Trump’s tax returns remain locked up, his nonprofit, the Donald J Trump Foundation INC, est. 1988 and is in operation out of Woodbury, New York has some answering to do. The Foundation was originally founded to give away proceeds from the book Trump: The Art of the Deal (1987). Decades later Trump remains the Foundation’s president. The New York Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, which oversees regulating nonprofits in the state, has asked about a $25,000 donation the Trump Foundation made in September 2013 to “And Justice for All” — a political group connected to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Other questions raised by The WashingtonPost, more directly related to #artlaw and #noprofitgovernance have to do with the Trump Foundation supposedly paying $20,000 for a six-foot-tall portrait of Trump, by Michael Israel. More recently four separate charities -the Giving Back Fund, Children’s Medical Center in Omaha, the Latino Commission on AIDS, and Friends of Veterans- reportedly claimed they never received donations that the foundation said it gifted them. (MP)

Select sources:

  • Steve Eder, “New York Attorney General to Investigate Donald Trump’s Nonprofit,” The New York Times (Sep.13, 2016);
  • David A. Fahrenthold, “Trump bought a 6-foot-tall portrait of himself with charity money. We may have found it,” The Washington Post (Sep.14, 2016);
    David A. Fahrenthold, “Three of the mysteries in the files of the Donald J. Trump Foundation have been solved. Here’s what we know,” The Washington Post (Sep.13, 2016).

HEAR Act. A bipartisan groups of senators, Sens.Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), John Cornyn (R., Texas), and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) are currently spearheading a new piece of legislation that will facilitate the restitution of Nazi looted artworks to Holocaust survivors in an expedited manner. The bill is titled the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act (HEAR Act) and will allow “civil claims or causes of action to recover artwork or other cultural property unlawfully lost because of persecution during the Nazi era, or for damages for the taking or detaining of such artwork or cultural property.” Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, S. 2763, 114th Cong. (2016). The Hear Act estimates that the Nazis confiscated as many as 650,000 works of art as a part of their genocidal campaign and works to  build on existing efforts on the part of the U.S. government to review and rule upon claims made by survivors.

According to one of the sponsors of the HEAR Act, Senator Cruz, this piece of legislation would also draw attention to current cultural crimes, particularly ISIS’s destruction of cultural sites and artifacts throughout the Middle East. Support for the bill extends beyond Congressional walls. On June 7th, actress Helen Mirren testified before the Senate in a judiciary subcommittee hearing on the HEAR Act. Having recently portrayed  Maria Altmann, a jewish woman who successfully reclaimed five works by Gustav Klimt which were  looted by the Nazis, in Women in Gold, Mirren has asserted her commitment to supporting this cause. In closing, Mirren both thanked and urged Congress to take action, explaining that Congress has the power, through its actions, to rejuvenate the lives of many people.