I have used this analogy before, but there is a certain Presidential candidate who is doing his best impersonating the Wizard of Oz. The other night on PBS Newshour, two financial reporters, who had delved deeply into this candidate’s business affairs, used that term to describe his poor business management skills – he does not want you to look behind the curtain. They did say he was superb at public relations skills equating him to P.T. Barnum, of circus fame, who once said “There is a sucker born every minute.”
A lot of this poor management is likely apparent in the candidate’s tax returns, yet he is the lone Presidential candidate to not release them since Richard Nixon started the practice. Some have provided two years, while guess who has provided the most in-depth release of 39 returns – one Hillary Clinton. While the man said no one cares about his returns, it turns out 67% of Americans do in a recent Rasmussen poll. The reason cited is he is under audit, but he would not be the first one to do so under audit, nor is an audit preventing him from releasing older accepted tax returns.
But, the lack of tax returns did not prevent these reporters from reviewing the man’s business history. His early career was heavily laden with debt financing, so much that it led to several bankruptcies of his companies. The corporate bankruptcies almost led to his personal bankruptcy. They noted the stories of his looking out only for his interests, while screwing others over through stiffing contractors, employees and co-investors are “all true.” They said he was quoted as saying about others “that is their problem.” This is a key reason for his many lawsuits, which number more than 3,500 per a USA Today article in June.
His later career is not using debt as much. He is “renting” his name to other developers where he has nothing to do with the property. This is so they can charge more to unwitting buyers. The candidate gets his royalties and goes about his business. I personally find this exploitive at best and unethical at worst, but he would not be the first person to sell his name. My guess is he loves this, as he gets money for very little risk, as he can pull out at any time, which has led to even more lawsuits.
These reporters were not high on the candidate’s business acumen. They added that he also seems to have less grasp of financing than he touts and has made several errors attempting to equate this business knowledge to federal financing. When pressed, they noted his consummate skill at PR. He can sell his name better than anyone can theirs. This is not the kind of man we need leading our country as he would not be putting the interests of others first.