ABC News(NEW YORK) — A Ukrainian steel magnate who was one of the largest donors to the Clinton Foundation has surfaced on newly filed tax records for Donald Trump’s charitable foundation, raising alarms from some of the Clinton’s most vocal critics.
“I think is troubling,” said Peter Schweizer, author of the book Clinton Cash, which documented the blending of the Clinton’s charitable and political interests. “He’s somebody that donated to the Clinton Foundation, and this is a problem…I think there’s no other way to read it other than they are hoping to get some favor in return.”
Pinchuk’s $150,000 donation, first reported by The Washington Post, was to the Trumps’ family-run charity, far smaller and more intimate than the vast Clinton Foundation. In total, the Trump non profit took in $780,000 in contributions last year.
Questions sent to the Victor Pinchuk Foundation offices Tuesday did not elicit a response.
However, a spokesman told The Post the donation was compensation for a speech Trump gave to a conference organized by the Pinchuk organization in Kiev. Trump spoke via video-link in 2015.
Pinchuck, a Ukrainian business man who is reportedly worth some $1.44 billion, made his fortune in the pipe-making industry. His father in law father-in-law was president of Ukraine from 1994 to 2005.
Pinchuk donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation over the years, and the New York Times reported that he lent his private plane to the Clintons. His name also appears in State Department emails made public by the group Citizens United as being invited to a small private dinner with then-Secretary Clinton.
It was a set of facts that fueled money-for-access allegations that Trump leveled against Clinton on the campaign trail.
“They should give the money back,” Trump said of the Clintons at one point. “Countries that influenced her totally and also countries that discriminated against women and gays and everybody else. I mean, that money should be given back. They should not take that money.”
Schweizer, who is informally advising the Trump transition team on reforms to clean up Washington, told ABC News he thinks Trump should give back the Pinchuk money.
“I think one of the reforms that needs to take place is that the Trump Foundation should not take any donations from businessmen from the United States or internationally,” he said. “It’s just simply a gateway to trying to curry favor with the president-elect.”
Schweizer runs the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative nonprofit investigative research organization. Stephen Bannon, Trump’s controversial chief strategist, sits on the board.
Submitted just two weeks after Donald Trump’s upset electoral victory, the filings also appear to include an admission of sorts from the Trump Foundation. For the first time, the filing acknowledges that the Trump Foundation engaged in a prohibited practice known as “self-dealing.”
The document provides different answers than years past about how charity money was spent, confirming that the Trump Foundation funds were used for the purchase of items including an autographed football helmet and a large portrait of Trump that the billionaire bought at a charity auction. The disclosure follows reports from The Post that indicate the Foundation also spent funds to settle legal disputes involving the Trump business.
The document, which was posted to non-profit tracking site GuideStar, comes as the president-elect faces mounting scrutiny over how he plans — if at all — to separate his business and governmental activities after he assumes office in less than two months.
While the Trump transition team and the Trump Organization have not responded to ABC News request for comment, the revelations land as Trump comes under greater pressure to explain how he’ll avoid mixing business with politics when in office.
On Tuesday, new concerns emerged about ongoing settlement talks between the U.S. Department of Justice and Deutsche Bank over its lending practices. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut and a former federal prosecutor, said he was concerned those talks could be tainted by suspicions over a conflict of interest since the bank has loaned Trump more than $300 million over the years.
Blumenthal told ABC News “what’s needed here is clearly an independent prosecutor, without any connection to an Attorney General who likely will be someone who is a personal confidant and campaign surrogate for Donald Trump.”
As concerns have been raised that Trump will never fully leave the corporate suite for the oval office, the president-elect has taken to social media to allay concerns.
“Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world. Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!” he tweeted earlier this week.
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