(ABC 15) — While Donald Trump’s foundation remains under scrutiny for failure to follow charity laws in New York requiring it to register with the state, a Scripps News investigation has uncovered documents that reveal charity regulators cited a Clinton charity for violating similar laws in Mississippi for three consecutive years starting in 2001. Records also show the charity repeatedly failed to disclose those instances to other states, as required.
Charities that wish to solicit funds in a majority of U.S. states are required to register with state agencies charged with protecting the public. The goal of state charity regulators, experts say, is to prevent scam artists and fraudsters from preying on the public, such as those who falsely claim to represent organizations raising money for helping others. To stay in good standing, many states require charities to answer a number of questions every year designed to help them spot potential red flags.
Records obtained by Scripps reveal that in 2001 Mississippi regulators cited the Clinton charity, then known as the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, for soliciting funds in the state without having a proper registration. It is a similar charge to what New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has lodged against the Donald J. Trump Foundation in recent months, ordering the private foundation to halt charitable fundraising temporarily in New York state until the foundation can get its filings in order.
In the case of the Clinton charity, Mississippi regulators offered to settle the violation in 2001 if the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation agreed to pay a $300 fine. The state and the foundation reached a consent agreement where the charity said the foundation’s failure to properly register that year was “completely inadvertent and unintentional.”
In 2002, Mississippi regulators again found that the Clinton foundation was soliciting contributions without the proper registration. For the second time in two years, the state offered to settle the charges without a formal hearing if the foundation would agree to pay a fine, which this time went up to $500.
The next year, in 2003, state regulators cited the Clinton charity once again for violating the same registration law. In a March 6, 2003, letter from Bill Wilkerson, the director of Regulation and Enforcement for the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office, the state told the Clinton foundation it “has solicited charitable contributions without a valid registration in violation of Miss. Code.” Wilkerson warned that any charity in violation is “subject to a cease and desist order, denial, suspension or revocation of its most recent application for registration, and an administrative penalty of up to $25,000 for each offense.”
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