The U.S president Donald Trump and his family have been sued by the state of New York for US2.8 million dollars. The attorney general of New York, Barbara Underwood, has sued the Donald J. Trump charitable foundation and his directors, president Trump and his three children, Eric, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr, for allegedly violating both state and federal charity laws. According to the attorney general, the Trump Foundation is "little more than an empty shell,“ The Guardian reports. The shrilly worded lawsuit was filed last Thursday, accusing the president and his family of actively taking money out of the foundation as a self-donation for the president‘s 2016 campaign.

That is a clear violation of campaign finance laws.

Used foundation money to buy a painting of Donald Trump

The foundation came under heavy scrutiny during the US 2016 presidential elections. Mr Trump was said to have used his foundation to fix some political favours. According to The New York Times, various emails confirmed that Mr Trump‘s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had been funnelling money from the foundation and into Mr Trump‘s campaign. Foundation assets were also used to buy a painting of president Trump for US$10,000 dollars, and settle legal claims against one of Trump‘s many golf clubs.

The lawsuit was filed on the president‘s 72nd birthday (June 14) and is the result of a nearly two-year investigation of Mr Trump‘s charity.

Attorney general Barbara Underwood, alleges that Mr Trump‘s charity foundation was nothing more than a chequebook for payments from the president, and it was that pattern of illegal conduct for more than a decade, that eventually led to this lawsuit. She is now asking the court to dissolve the foundation and take US2.8 million dollars in restitution and additional penalties, as this is not how a charity should be run.

CNN reports.

Representatives for the Trump foundation fight back

The president took to Twitter to express his frustration with this case, dismissing the lawsuit and called it "the work of the sleazy New York Democrats,“ and then refused to settle the case. But according to The Guardian, it could cost the president greatly if he does decide not to settle.

That could mean that an investigation had to be made into the Trump Foundation, that the president himself would have to personally be involved in. Nonprofit organisations and charities in the US are governed by various state and federal laws. This is to keep them from using their money in any other purpose than it‘s originally intended to. Violations include penalties, such as revocation of the organisation's nonprofit status.

In a statement, given by a Trump Foundation representative, the foundation gave out more money in charity than it took in, and was able to do so because it had little or no expenses, which is unprecedented. However, in an interview with the CNN, Underwood claimed she had facts to back up her case.