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BK Blog Post
Posted by Jeffrey Clements.
Jeffrey Clements is a cofounder and general counsel of Free Speech for People, a national, nonpartisan campaign to oppose corporate personhood and pass the People’s Rights Amendment.
Eric Schneiderman, the New York state attorney general, has hired a top public corruption prosecutor to focus specifically on Donald Trump.
In February, Free Speech For People sent an open letter to Attorney General Schneiderman, pointing out that New York state law gives the state attorney general the legal authority to dissolve the Trump Organization and revoke its corporate charter based on past and present alleged illegal activity, including facilitating unconstitutional payments and other “emoluments” to President Trump. We asked him to open an investigation into whether to bring proceedings to dissolve the Trump Organization under that authority.
Then on Friday, March 17, we sent a second letter to Attorney General Schneiderman, asking that he expand the scope of his investigation to include recent revelations that the Trump Organization may have violated the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and/or the Iran Sanctions Act in its work on the failed Trump Tower Baku project in Azerbaijan.
Attorney General Schneiderman’s March 19 announcement that he had hired Howard Master, a distinguished public corruption prosecutor, is a welcome step. Here’s some background, from the Huffington Post:
Last month, at a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, Schneiderman revealed that his office was discussing strategies and doing research to determine what kind of action could be taken to address concerns about Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, and possible violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits anyone holding a federal “office” from accepting payments from foreign entities.
“Certainly, my office is looking at anything that’s passed on to us and doing our own research,” Schneiderman said. “We’ve had meetings with people discussing these matters already.”
The nonprofit ethics watchdog Free Speech for People wrote a letter to Schneiderman last month pointing out past illegal activities involving the president’s company, and called on him to revoke a business charter that allows the Trump Organization to operate in New York. A subsequent letter last week asked the attorney general to investigate dealings by the Trump Organization in Baku, Azerbaijan, that “may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” and U.S. sanctions against Iran.
We look forward to working with Mr. Master as these investigations develop.