Las Vegas’ Ruffin big donor as Trump Foundation raises, gives more

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Steve Marcus

Donald Trump, left, developer Phil Ruffin and his wife, Oleksandra Ruffin, celebrate with a toast during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Trump International Hotel and Tower.

Tue, Nov 21, 2017 (1:29 p.m.)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s charitable foundation increased its fundraising and giving during his campaign last year, even as it became the subject of criticism that prompted a decision to dissolve it, according to paperwork submitted this month to the IRS.

The Donald J. Trump Foundation raised $2.9 million in 2016 — almost as much as it had raised in the preceding four years combined — according to its annual tax filing for 2016. It also showed that the foundation donated $3 million last year, more than it had given in the previous three years combined.

Most of the money came from a pair of $1 million donations from leading supporters of his presidential campaign — the Las Vegas gambling investor Phil Ruffin and Laura Perlmutter of Lake Worth, Florida, whose husband, Isaac Perlmutter, is the chairman of Marvel Entertainment. They donated in connection with an event that Trump staged to benefit military veterans, which set off scrutiny of his foundation for giving away only a fraction of the money it raised to charities, and for making payments in a manner that appeared to benefit Trump.

The foundation also attracted scrutiny from the New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, who found it had violated fundraising rules and ordered it to cease soliciting contributions the month before the election. After Trump won, he directed his lawyers to begin the process of closing the foundation to avoid conflicts of interest.

This month’s IRS filing indicates that the foundation finished last year with more than $970,000 in the bank, and that it “is seeking approval to distribute its remaining funds to highly qualified and important” charities.

The White House referred requests for comment on the remaining funds to the foundation.

A spokeswoman for the foundation said that the funds had not yet been distributed and that it would seek approval from Schneiderman’s office before donating any more.

A majority of the foundation’s donations in 2016 — more than $2.2 million — went to veterans’ groups, including the Foundation for American Veterans, the Green Beret Foundation, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, the National Military Family Association and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

Other grantees listed on the tax filing included the Central Park Conservancy, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, the Police Athletic League, the Puppy Jake Foundation and the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, where Trump’s son Barron was a student until last year.

Trump did not donate to his foundation in 2016 and has not done so since 2008. But his daughter Ivanka Trump donated $100,000.

The Trump Foundation received donations of $50,000 each from a foundation associated with the real estate investor Steven Roth, whom Trump appointed to a White House infrastructure council, and John Cafaro, an Ohio developer.

Among the remaining assets of the foundation are a football helmet and two portraits worth a total of $1,675, according to the tax filing.

While the filing does not provide specifics about the assets, The Washington Post reported last year that Trump used $12,000 from his charity to buy a Denver Broncos helmet autographed by the team’s former quarterback Tim Tebow, as well as a Tebow jersey.

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