Trump corruption: 14 Sep 2016

It’s easy for Trump’s corruption to get ignored in favor of reporting on his latest entertainingly-enraging word salad. So (following Matthew 7:16 here), just for the moment, let’s ignore all of the awful things he’s said and look at stuff he’s actually done:

He took $150k in post-9/11 taxpayer-funded small business recovery funding for rent loss, cleanup, and repairs. New York State used pretty loose guidelines for eligibility as a “small business,” putting Trump in the same company as Morgan Stanley and Bank of China in applying for these Empire State Development Corp funds. He now says he received that money because he (claims he) helped so many people, who (he claims) are constantly telling him how grateful they are for all of his help.

This is valor-stealing horseshit: charity was not a reimbursable item for this fund so it’s false on its face, and also where are all these grateful people.

Trump and his businesses have a habit of not paying people for their work. Since the 1980s, at least 3,500 lawsuits and 200 liens have been filed against him, including by small businesses, mechanics, subcontractors, hourly workers at his clubs and resorts, real estate brokers, and law firms who have represented him, as well as by undocumented workers he shouldn’t have been hiring to begin with. He currently has long-standing campaign workers who say they are not volunteers who have not yet been paid for their work. At this point I don’t know why anybody decides to work for the guy without cash up front.

In 2009, Trump licensed his name to pyramid scheme/multilevel marketing company Ideal Health, which became the Trump Network and sold “health” products which were “customized” based on customers’ urine samples, and which was the subject of several Federal Trade Commission complaints. Their marketing materials and his speeches on the company also misled participants about his level of involvement.

Urine samples, y’all. Urine. Samples.

He donated $25,000 to a group supporting Republican Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, to influence her office’s review of fraud allegations against Trump University, through his charitable foundation, in violation of tax regulations [501(c)(3) charities can’t make political contributions], and as a result had to pay a $2,500 penalty to the IRS.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing in this particular case, but speaking in general about pay-to-play, said in the Republican debates:

“When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.”

He has also made contributions to at least three other state attorneys general whose offices have considered complaints against Trump U: Republican Greg Abbott (Texas; $35,000; he supports Trump and former Texas Deputy Chief of Consumer Protection John Owens says he was told in 2010 to drop a fraud investigation into Trump University despite having built a solid case); Democrat Eric Schneiderman (New York; $12,500; his lawsuit is still pending); and Democrat Kamala Harris (California; $6,000, which she says she donated to charity; their office is still investigating).

Trump University partnered with Mike and Irene Milin to set up Trump Institute (a wealth seminar series that was part of the “University”) despite their having previously been prosecuted in Texas for deceptive trade practices.

Trump University had to change its name to Trump Entrepreneur Initiative before it shut down because it was operating without a New York educational license.

As an aside, the Trump University fraud trial won’t be litigated until after the election. Yaaaayyyy for justice.

In 1973, when Trump was President of Trump Management, the Justice Department sued the company for violating the Fair Housing Act (that is, for housing discrimination against black potential tenants).

In the 1980s, he donated tens of thousands of dollars to the New York City Council’s president through a bunch of subsidiary companies to evade contribution limits.

In 1981, he bought a Central Park South property and from 1982 to 1986, intimidated tenants – cutting off heat and water, refusing to make repairs (two tenants said an unrepaired leak led to mushrooms in their carpet) – to attempt to get them to leave their rent-controlled units so he could replace them with luxury condos.

In the 1990s, the FEC fined him for exceeding the annual limit on campaign contributions by $47k.

In 2000, the New York State lobbying commission fined Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts $50k and two front groups each $100k for non-disclosure of $150k Trump paid through the front groups to finance ads opposing a proposed Catskills casino he thought would threaten his Atlantic City properties.

He made money off his Atlantic City casino bankruptcies, leaving investors bearing the financial burden. He’s actually proud of this. Like running multiple businesses into the ground makes him some kind of genius. And he keeps promising to run the United States like his businesses. So, if he wins, cash out your 401k and take up meth? I guess?

Since 2005, Trump Plaza and Trump Mortgage LLC combined have been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act for non-payment of overtime and minimum wage.

According to the former models, Trump Model Management used at least four foreign models in the United States on tourist visas (which don’t allow you to work here), and then charged the models high rents and other expenses.

Trump’s Mar-a-Largo Club and Trump National Golf Club have both sought temporary visas from the Department of Labor to import foreign workers for hospitality positions despite local career services companies saying they have more than enough Americans willing and able to do the work.

The Trump Foundation sometimes lies to the Internal Revenue Service about giving donations to other charities (the other charities say they never received the donations).

Unlike most family foundations, Trump rarely gives money to the Foundation (his last gift was in 2008), using it instead as a pass-through for others’ charitable giving (and making himself look generous in the process, without having to spend a dime of his own money).

Oh but wait, just combine that information with the stuff above and you’ll realize that Trump used other people’s charity donations to try to bribe at least four state Attorneys General so they’d kill investigations into his fraudulent university. This fucking guy.

Additionally, the Foundation bought expensive things which Donald Trump has kept, including a $20k portrait of Trump and a helmet signed by Tim Tebow, probably violating IRS rules. Did I mention the portrait is six feet tall. No word on whether or not it pictures him naked riding a tiger.

Everything Trump has learned from turning his bankruptcies and his likeness and his family foundation into a way to spend other people’s money for his own benefit has been applied to his campaign. He stays almost exclusively in his own properties, sometimes flying unnecessarily to do so (e.g. he flew back to New York from the Republican convention rather than just staying in a hotel in Cleveland). He probably doesn’t have to sleep in a secret earth-filled coffin clad in a linen shroud or something, right? Probably not? So either he’s got an obsessive control-issue Thing about sleeping in places he owns, or he’s playing the wily businessman he’s so proud of thinking he is and wasting tons of time (that he could be spending campaigning) traveling back and forth to his properties so that they can make money from his campaign.

His campaign events are often also at his properties, his campaign headquarters are at Trump Tower, and he uses his own private air fleet to travel, for all of which his campaign pays his companies (this is apparently legal as long as only market rates are charged). He has directed about 17% of his campaign money towards his own businesses, and he promotes Trump products at his campaign events. He’s paying himself to run for President.

And, incidentally, still refusing to release his tax returns.

Some donors are concerned that he’ll end up using their donations to pay himself back for the loans he made to his primary campaign, which is apparently a thing he could actually do. He’s said he won’t, but he’s a flagrant liar who breaks his promises: he promised he wouldn’t sell junk bonds to fund his casinos (but did it anyway), and he promised to recruit amazing instructors for Trump U and to provide personal counseling to students (neither of which he did), and he promised to pay literally thousands of people for services they provided to him (who have since sued him for non-payment), and he promised to self-fund his campaign (but is seeking donations), and so on and so on.

In 2000, he reportedly said:

“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”

Which may be the most honest he’s ever been.


  1. EXCLUSIVE: Donald Trump’s claim he got $150G in post-9/11 state funds for small businesses because he helped people in need is unfounded, docs show [NY Daily News]
  2. The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet [Atlantic]
  3. Trump Agrees To Pay $750,000 Penalty To Settle Antitrust Lawsuit [AP]
  4. After 15 Years in Court, Workers’ Lawsuit Against Trump Faces Yet Another Delay [NYT
  5. ‘No Vacancies’ for Blacks: How Donald Trump Got His Start, and Was First Accused of Bias [NYT]
  6. Trump’s history of corruption is mind-boggling. So why is Clinton supposedly the corrupt one? [WaPo]
  7. N.Y.’s Trump U suit draws Florida officials’ attention [Orlando Sentinel
  8. Former Texas official says he was told to drop Trump University probe [CBS]
  9. Donald Trump Seeks Delay In Trump University Fraud Trial [CBS]
  10. How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Atlantic City Casinos, but Still Earned Millions [NYT]
  11. Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills [USA Today]
  12. Dozens of lawsuits accuse Trump of not paying his bills, reports claim [Fox]
  13. Donald Trump Doesn’t Pay All of His Campaign Staffers [Esquire
  14. How Donald Trump retooled his charity to spend other people’s money [WaPo]
  15. Trump’s Get Rich Seminar Partnered With Couple Prosecuted for Fraud [Daily Beast]
  16. The Trump Network sought to make people rich, but left behind disappointment [WaPo]
  17. Former Models for Donald Trump’s Agency Say They Violated Immigration Rules and Worked Illegally [Mother Jones]
  18. Trump Seeks More Foreign Guest Workers For His Companies [Buzzfeed]
  19. Florida AG asked Trump for donation before nixing fraud case [AP]
  20. Trump pays IRS a penalty for his foundation violating rules with gift to aid Florida attorney general [WaPo]
  21. Donald Trump’s Donation Is His Latest Brush With Campaign Fund Rules [NYT]
  22. This is the 5th time a charity told me they didn’t get $ that @realDonaldTrump’s Fdn told the IRS it had given them. [Fahrenthold]
  23. Trump likes to sleep in his own bed and it may cost him votes [Reuters]
  24. Trump’s campaign spends $6 million with Trump companies [AP]
  25. Donald Trump’s Self-Funding Includes Payments to Family and His Companies [NYT]
  26. Trump directs nearly one-fifth of his money to his own businesses [CNN]
  27. Trump’s long record of broken promises [Capitol Hill Blue]

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]