ALBANY - State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office ordered Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's charity to immediately stop raising money, accusing the foundation of violating state law.
James Sheehan, chief of Schneiderman's charities bureau, penned a letter Friday to an attorney for the Donald J. Trump Foundation, accusing the charity of failing to register with the attorney general's office, a necessary step to solicit big-money donations in New York.
The letter to the Trump Foundation's attorney was publicly released Monday by Schneiderman's office.
The foundation must "immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fundraising activities in New York," according to Sheehan's letter.
"The failure to immediately discontinue solicitation and to file information and reports required under (state law) ... shall be deemed to be a continuing fraud upon the people of the state of New York," he wrote.
New York-based charities are required to register with Schneiderman's charities bureau before seeking funds.
Once they're registered, those with annual revenues of more than $25,000 have to submit financial reports to Schneiderman that essentially serve as an audit.
Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump's campaign, said the campaign remains "very concerned about the political motives" behind Schneiderman's probe, but said the foundation "nevertheless intends to cooperate fully with the investigation."
"Because this is an ongoing legal matter, the Trump Foundation will not comment further at this time," she said.
Schneiderman, a Democrat, has repeatedly clashed with Trump in recent years.
In 2013, Schneiderman filed a fraud suit against Trump, accusing his "Trump University" program of bilking its participants and falsely overstating the Manhattan real-estate mogul's involvement.
Trump, who had previously donated to Schneiderman's campaign, countered with a public-relations, creating a website touting the Trump University program and filing an ethics complaint against the attorney general.
Amid his initial spat with Schneiderman, Trump contributed $20,000 to John Cahill, Schneiderman's Republican opponent in 2014.
Last month, Schneiderman's office launched an investigation into the Trump Foundation following a series of articles by the Washington Post examining the charity's actions.
Sheehan's letter gave the Trump Foundation 15 days to register and provide audits from previous years.
2 On Your Side spoke with Dr. Peter Yacobucci, an associate professor of political science at SUNY Buffalo State, about how this could affect the campaign.
"We're now 35 days away from the election, how much of this was political today?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"Well, it's hard to tell. The Trump Foundation has been under scrutiny for at least the last six months," said Yacobucci.
Yacobucci says the cease and desist order could have been issued any time over the last six months and that the timing is interesting with the Vice Presidential debate set for Tuesday.
"How do you think this could impact the Vice Presidential debate tomorrow?" asked Dudzik.
"Well, I feel for Mike Pence, the Vice President running for the Republicans. I'm sure tomorrow he's going to be asked questions both on Trump's taxes and on Trump Foundation. And that's not what he wants to focus on. He wants to focus on issues," said Yacobucci.
"How do you think this will impact the campaign overall?" asked Dudzik.
"Well, it's interesting. It builds into the narrative that has been developing for the last week that Trump's business acumen might not be what we think it is. This is a simple mistake that was made," said Yacobucci. "The analogy that I gave to someone today, it would be like driving a car for ten years and not realizing you're supposed to have a driver’s license."