Since Trump Won't Divest, NY AG Can Revoke His Business Charter: Group

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Since Trump Won't Divest, NY AG Can Revoke His Business Charter: Group

Free Speech for People tells Eric Schneiderman he has authority under state law to investigate and revoke corporation's charter

"The president's continued ownership stake in the Trump Organization poses a grave threat to our Constitution and our country." (Photo: m01229/flickr/cc)

An advocacy group on Tuesday delivered a letter to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman demanding he investigate—and possibly revoke—the Trump Organization's charter, over what the group says are conflicts of interests that violate state laws.

Now that President Donald Trump has refused to divest his assets in the company, which oversees his various real estate, hotel, and other businesses, Schneiderman should take action over its previous housing discrimination settlements, fraud allegations at its university, and other legal infractions it has allegedly committed, the letter from Free Speech for People states.

The group cited Section 1101 of New York's Business Corporation Law, which gives the attorney general power to dissolve a business and revoke its charter if it abuses its legal authority.

"The president's continued ownership stake in the Trump Organization poses a grave threat to our Constitution and our country," FSFP's legal director Ron Fein said. "Attorney General Schneiderman needs to investigate the Trump Organization's corrupt involvement in the president's self-enrichment scheme, and whether to dissolve the company and revoke its corporate charter."

Schneiderman "does not need Congress to pursue this investigation," Fein said. "He does not need the state legislature. Right now, he can use the power the people of New York have vested in him to ensure that the president is not above the law."

The advocacy group's push follows a similar effort taken up by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which last month sued the president and filed a complaint with the Government Services Administration over Trump's alleged violations of the Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits elected officials from taking foreign money.

FSFP counsel Ben Clements said Wednesday, "Never in our nation's history, until now, has a business corporation been effectively merged with the presidency of the United States to enable the president and his family to use the presidency to enrich themselves."

A representative for Schneiderman said the office would "review" FSFP's letter. The attorney general is already known as a Trump opponent, having joined a lawsuit against the president's executive order banning immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries. He also launched an investigation into the Trump Foundation, the empire's charity arm, late last year after the Washington Post revealed the organization had failed to properly register in New York.

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