Trump Organization names ethics team lawyers

Real estate firm tapped attorney tied to Trump U case & one who helped raise “dark money”

New York /
Jan.January 30, 2017 12:30 PM

The Trump family’s real estate company named a lawyer with strong ties to the Republican party and a legal beagle who helped defend Trump University as part of the team to navigate possible conflicts of interest.

Commercial litigator and political lawyer Bobby Burchfield, of firm King & Spalding, was named an independent ethics adviser who will help the Trump Organization navigate the relevant laws, Bloomberg reported. An executive vice president at the Trump Organization, George Sorial, will act as chief compliance officer and will make sure the company “remains compliant with the highest legal and ethical standards,” the company announced last week.

Sorial has worked as a lawyer at the Trump Organization TRData LogoTINY since 2007, and said his involvement with the Trump University case was “minimal.” Court records show he dealt with the external attorney that was hired to handle the case against Trump University, according to the publication. Sorial asked New York State for permission to call the venture “Trump Education” after officials barred Trump from using the term “University” in 2010. He also helped spearhead an internal investigation into Trump University.

According to his 2014 tax documents, Burchfield was chairman of Crossroads GPS, a Karl Rove-connected nonprofit that was one of the first to use “dark money” in political campaigns, according to Bloomberg, citing the Center for Responsive Politics. “Dark money” refers to donations to politically active nonprofits where disclosing the sources of the funding is not requisite. Between 2010 and 2014, Crossroads GPS spent $114 million on political ads with without disclosing donors, per the Center for Responsive Politics.

President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that his sons Eric and Donald Jr., alongside Trump Organization executive Alan Weisselberg, will run the Trump Organization through a trust while he holds office.  Critics claim Trump’s resignation from the company is not sufficient to prevent conflicts of interest, as Trump could still be involved in decision making.  A government watchdog group is trying to sue the president in federal court, alleging his foreign dealings represent a violation of the United States Constitution. [Bloomberg]Miriam Hall


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