fishy
October 16, 2019

More questions have arisen surrounding President Trump's businesses after ProPublica obtained documents via New York's Freedom of Information Law.

The documents show that for two of Trump's New York properties — 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower — different financial figures were reported to lenders and to tax authorities. For example, the Trump Organization told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9 percent leased on Dec. 31, 2012, before vaulting to 95 percent a few years later, which reportedly represented borrower-friendly "leasing momentum." But the company reportedly disclosed that the building was 81 percent rented as of Jan. 5, 2013 to tax officials. Ultimately, the reporting strategy helped Trump reach favorable terms — he received a 10-year loan with a lower interest than the building previously had and was also able to defer paying off much of the principal until the end of the loan. "There was a story crafted here," said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University.

As for Trump Tower, the company reportedly told tax authorities that the building made around $822,000 renting space to commercial tenants in 2017, while reporting to lenders that it took in nearly double that. In eight years of data ProPublica examined for the property, the Trump organization generally reported gross income to tax authorities that was around 81 percent of what it reported to the lender.

There can be legitimate reasons for such numbers to diverge, real estate experts have noted, but those same experts told ProPublica that some of the gaps in the documents did not appear to have any reasonable justification. Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley said the discrepancies amount to some "versions of fraud." Read more at ProPublica. Tim O'Donnell

March 21, 2019

Republicans estimate President Trump needs $1 billion to win in 2020 — and that he needs some unlikely donors to make that happen.

With several Democrats' fundraising totals already leaping into the tens of millions, the GOP knows it needs its wealthy party members who fought Trump in 2016 to change allegiances this time around. And to make that happen, Vice President Mike Pence — the less abrasive of America's executive duo — is taking to the golf course, Politico reports.

On Monday, Pence spoke to several big-dollar GOP donors, including billionaire investor Paul Singer, at a surf and turf dinner at California's Pebble Beach golf course. Singer donated millions to an anti-Trump PAC in 2016, but that wasn't apparent from the way Pence "thanked him for his years of financial support to the party and conservative causes" on Monday, Politico says. Pence also brought Singer to the White House to share "detailed briefings on the administration's legislative agenda," Politico continues, perhaps because Singer did reportedly end up giving $1 million to Trump's inauguration committee.

The Pebble Beach dinner was just one example of how Pence can "translate Trump" into a language conservatives want to hear, says David McIntosh, who heads a former anti-Trump group that's more anti-Beto O'Rourke this time around. Still, Pence's dinner party didn't completely convince 2016 anti-Trumper Art Pope to donate to Trump in 2020. He may "remain on the sidelines" this time instead of publicly opposing Trump, though, and he expects more former anti-Trumpers to do the same, Politico notes.

Read more about Pence's mission at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk

June 22, 2018

President Trump this week signed an executive order designed to roll back environmental regulations that protect the world's oceans — and handed himself a business win in the process.

The executive order aims to "facilitate the economic growth of coastal communities and promote ocean industries," which, incidentally, include his own Trump-branded hotels and golf clubs. "Growing the ocean economy" could also grow his own profit margins, as many of his businesses rely heavily on coastal and ocean regulations, research gathered by Citizen Vox shows.

Trump loves to boast about his properties all over the world, some of which offer "spectacular panoramic Pacific Ocean views," and many of which are affected by environmental regulations that the golfing industry has vociferously opposed, deploying lobbyists to push against water and pesticide rules that rack up expenses for business owners.

Environmental groups in Chicago moved to sue one of Trump's hotels just days ago, accusing the company of violating clean water regulations and endangering fish and other wildlife in the area. Tuesday's executive order eliminates several regional planning bodies that were designed to keep an eye on local bodies of water and apply federal laws accordingly.

Critics like Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) have decried Trump's regulatory rollbacks, explaining how much Trump stands to profit from his time in office given that he has refused to divest fully from his business empire. Scrapping rules designed to protect bodies of water is explicitly intended to benefit the business community, and Trump explains as much in his executive order — without including the little detail that that community is one to which he belongs. Summer Meza

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