Another Voice: Trump the businessman

Another Voice: Trump the businessman

In summer of 2016, Lynn and I went to the Boonville Fair to see the sheepdog trials and spent the rest of the day taking in the fair.  We chatted with the three older fellows sitting the Republican booth, wanting to know what they liked about Trump, their party nominee.  They all stated his being a businessman gave them confidence.  Four years on, we can examine the question: is Trump a good businessman?

Trump has gone to great lengths to keep his business history secret, using lawsuits and extensive non-disclosure agreements.  Candidate Trump promoted himself as successful and independently wealthy, therefore immune to corruption.  However, as a public figure, a strong light has been brought to bear, revealing a different picture.

Even as we spoke to the three Republicans, Trump was committing campaign fraud by laundering illegal hush money payments to a couple of porn stars.  His fixer lawyer eventually pled guilty and is now serving time.

The Donald J. Trump Foundation was established in 1988, with funds mostly from donors other than Trump.  In 2016 The Washington Post reported several potential legal and ethical violations, such as alleged self-dealing and possible tax evasion.  The New York State Attorney General investigated and notified the Trump Foundation that it was in violation of New York laws regarding charities, ordered it to immediately cease its fundraising activities in New York, and banned the entire family from charitable operations for life.  (Wikipedia)

Trump Shuttle airline, launched in June 1989, was never profitable, and ceased to exist in April 1992, leaving Trump owing between $25 and $35 million.

A story in the Times punctured the mythology surrounding Trump’s business career.  Based on Internal Revenue Service transcripts of Trump’s tax returns from 1985 to 1994, his core businesses racked up losses of more than $1 billion in a ten-year period.  During 1990 and 1991, the story said, Trump’s losses were so large that they “were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years”. (New Yorker May 10, 2019)

Trump filed bankruptcy six times on over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City and New York: Trump Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (1992), Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Castle Hotel and Casino (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009). (Wikipedia)

Trump has a history of stiffing contractors, creditors and partners, tying them up in expensive lawsuits rather than dealing honestly.  In 2004, Trump asked for $500 million from Deutsche Bank, the only bank still willing to lend to him, to build a skyscraper in Chicago.  Deutsche Bank determined that Trump was massively inflating his assets, telling them his net worth was about $3 billion, when he was actually worth $788 million.  One of their senior investment bankers cautioned that Mr. Trump should be avoided because he worked with people connected to organized crime.  Nevertheless, the bank made the loan.  Shortly before the bulk of the loan was due in November 2008, Trump sued the bank to avoid repayment, demanding $3 billion in damages.  Despite this, Deutsche Bank has made further loans to Trump totaling $2 billion, allegedly laundering Russian mob money, the subject of one of the lawsuits the Supreme Court recently decided against Trump.

Trump Steaks, launched in May, 2007, folded two months later.

Trump University ran a real estate training program from 2005 until 2010.  New York State authorities declared the use of the word “university” violated state law, and Trump failed to obtain a business license.  In 2013 the state of New York filed a $40 million civil suit claiming that Trump University made false claims and defrauded its students.  In November 2016, Trump paid $25 million to settle the cases. (Wikipedia)

Trumps’ niece, Mary Trump, recently published “Too Much And Never Enough”, describing Trump’s chronic lying and cheating, including the alleged defrauding of US taxes when the estate of Fred Trump Sr., who died in 1999, was devalued from almost $1 billion to $30 million, cheating Mary out of her share of the estate.

Trump is a businessman as a gangster is a businessman, without ethics or regard for the rule of law.  He has corrupted or bankrupted every business he has touched, and he’s doing that same to America.

Crispin B. Hollinshead lives in Ukiah.  This and previous articles can be found at

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