Set aside the comments and let’s focus on his business history

I would like to set aside all of the bigoted, misogynistic, xenophobic, hateful and inane comments made by a certain Presidential candidate and focus on his touted main reason for electing him, his business record. Yet, to the contrary of his claims, everything one needs to know about Donald Trump and his lack of veracity as a candidate is in his history and it is not hard to find. And, I don’t mean his history of sexual harassment and assault using his own words corroborated by a growing number of women. I mean his business history, which is less sensational.

Let’s focus on two main things. How did he make his money and how did he treat people along the way? Trump touts his skills as a businessman, yet while he is a superb public relations and marketing person who has merchandised himself well, his business management skills and ethics are lacking. In fact, Trump’s history is one of exploiting people for money. This includes employees, contractors, customers and co-investors.

He does this by bullying, litigation or threatened litigation, stiffing people, renting his name to other developers so they can charge more, misrepresentation, and poor business decisions leading to business failures and six bankruptcies. Whether it is bullying or suing people to get them out of their homes, refusing to pay contractors like painters, electricians, dry wallers, landscape professionals, piano suppliers, etc., misrepresenting to people about the benefits of a purchase and using strong-arm marketing tactics, or just getting over leveraged with debt which led to the business bankruptcies and almost his own personal one, his track record is not exemplary. The latter was a key reason for the $916 million loss on his leaked 1995 tax return per The New York Times.

During the campaign, non-partisan and Pulitzer prize-winning Poltifacts has noted Trump has lied more than any other Presidential candidate by far dating back to 2007. But, this is not inconsistent with his history in business. Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked for him, noted in an op-ed piece several interesting comments as his reasons not to vote for his old boss. Two stand out to me. First he said “Trump lies all the time.” Second, he said Trump often uses the excuse of poor work to stiff contractors. Doing it occasionally is one thing, but this is his modus operandi. One contractor who appeared on a Virginia voter panel on PBS Newshour this summer noted “the word on the street with Trump’s companies is get your money upfront.”

The dilemma is he uses a lawsuit or threat of lawsuit as a weapon. These unpaid contractors who felt wronged would sue him and then he would countersue. His attorneys and his wealth would outgun and out wait his opponents and they would drop the case. Many would have to file for bankruptcy themselves, since the contracts may be for much of their income. It should be noted some of his attorneys would go unpaid as well. Per an article in USA Today in June, 2016, it was reported that Trump has had 3,500 lawsuits, which average to 1 1/2 per week over a 45 year career.

But, let’s look at two microcosms going on today which indicate how he operates as a business leader. First, his Foundation is under investigation for mismanagement and self-dealing. It has been reported in The Washington Post that he has used his Foundation to settle business litigation, contribute to the campaign of the Florida attorney general and buy portraits of himself. Plus, the Foundation has not been registered with the state of New York and maybe other states. The Washington Post found the illegal donation to the campaign and Trump recognized the wrongdoing and corrected it, but it was also incorrectly reported on the Foundation’s earlier tax return as being made to a legitimate entity for a Foundation purpose.

Second, he is facing three class action lawsuits with Trump University which will continue irrespective of the outcome of the election. The lawsuits are for alleged misrepresentation to students and seminar goers regarding his promised hand selection of the professors and the benefit of the classes. He also tried to stop the public release of a marketing playbook in court disclosures which revealed aggressive and strong-arm pressure tactics to buy the seminars. The latter is not illegal, but indicates how he exploits people through pressure sales. It should be noted the campaign donation to the Florida AG noted above seemed to be timed to dissuade her from adding impacted Florida citizens to one of the class action lawsuits.

Finally, one of the areas of greatest concern was reported in a Newsweek piece on his global business. Per this article, he has not done much due diligence on who he has done business with and they present some severe conflicts of interests, should he get elected. One business deal is with a man whose father launders money for Iranian officials. Another is with a man in South Korea who was jailed for embezzlement and fled to North Korea. He has had poor dealings with folks in India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. In fact, Turkish President Erdogan was so offended by Trump, he jailed Trump’s partner and said if Trump wins, the US cannot use their air base.

To me, these reasons paint a picture of a man who does not have a stellar business record to brag about. Yes, he can sell just about anything, but he has a hard time managing what he has sold. But, please do not take my word for it, as I have only compiled investigative research. I would ask that you do some digging. And, it will not be that difficult. You can start with the excellent reporting being done by The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Reuters, and PBS Newshour. What bothers me most is how many hard-working people have gone out of business or lost a great deal of income as a result of this man’s actions.

 

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40 thoughts on “Set aside the comments and let’s focus on his business history

  1. My husband and I were just talking about this. As horrible as his “alleged” sexual assaults against women are, there are so many reasons (dare I say even more important reasons as far as our country’s well-being is concerned) to vote against this man. It sickens me that only now some in the GOP are abandoning him, as if up to now he was a candidate that deserved their support.

    • Janis, I fully understand. This man screws people his entire career and now he represents the common man. These contractors and employees are what the common man looks like, hard working people.

      A piano supplier wrote an op-ed piece. He has never had problems with his customers until Trump. Trump offered him 70 cents on the $1.00 and he could not afford to fight him. A painter wrote recently that Trump stiffed him on a $250,000 job. These mean nothing to Trump, but everything to these people. Keith

    • Nice to find this thread. For me, Creepy Donnie is unacceptable from every standpoint – morally and ethically, politically (what does he really stand for other than himself?), intellectually (stupid on issues and too lazy to learn), and emotionally (can be manipulated by the slightest praise or baited into week long harangues by a single insult).

      Having said that Hillary is unacceptable as well. Look at the email scandals or the pay to play influence peddling of the Clinton Foundation. Two thoroughly corrupt candidates. It’s no surprise they were friends up till Donnie’s decision to run … at Bill Clinton’s behest.

      I want my protest of these two to be counted so I’m writing in Evan McMullin.

      • Gene, thanks for your comments. If you read the op-ed piece by Thomas Wells, he also concurs with you about Trump’s unwillingness to study the issues and become prepared for such an important position.

        While she is far from perfect and has an Achilles heel of being too secretive, I will be voting for Clinton as there is clear light of day between the two. Her biggest opponent is the carefully crafted caricature of her built brick by brick over time based on refuted stories and her real mistakes which aid and abet this caricature. Please read The Guardian piece from yesterday about why people hate her. The Clinton Foundation is a good example as it A rated by Charity Watch and does a mountain of good on global health issues. She was concerned in taking the Sec. of State job over the appearance of impropriety. But, here is my thesis. There is a correlation between meetings with foreign leaders and past donations to the Foundation. But, a reason that should not be overlooked is when you are working to solve global health care issues, the involvement of the foreign leaders is essential, so a correlation exists.

        I understand fully reservations about her, which is why I voted for Obama as an Independent, but she is sane, experienced and competent and we know what we are getting. With Trump, all bets are off.

        Thanks again for your comments. Please do come again. Keith

  2. You are quite right in calling for people to put aside the whole issue of his sexual abuse and try to focus on his track record in business. It’s hard, because as soon as one turns on the television, logs onto the internet, or picks up a newspaper, there it is … I guess the old saying that “sex sells” is true, huh? You make good points here, and his lack of business acumen is certainly a high priority. I might argue about him being a brilliant marketer, though … I wouldn’t buy a peanut from the sleazy “man”! 🙂

    • Jill, as for his marketing acumen, he has tapped into an underlying angst. The dilemma is the audience does not know he is horrible at keeping promises. See my response to Janis with two recent examples – he still does this. Keith

      • Jill, you are right. He tapped into the need being a good salesman, but does not mean most of what he says and is not very detailed about his plans. He keeps everything bumper sticker simple, but much of it is empty slogans. Keith

      • Most of his lemmings probably could not comprehend anything beyond his simple ‘bumper-sticker’ phrases! Forgive me … I am feeling cynical this evening … sigh.

      • Jill, you have a right to feel cynical. He tells his followers only to believe him, the fact checkers are part of the liberal media, the liberal media is out to get him, the government is against him, and even his party’s leadership. So, he has inoculated his followers into an impenetrable numbness. They have been conned and don’t know it, by this egomaniacal man. Keith

      • He is indeed. It sad and comical that people believe him and think he will represent the common man. I started to include this, but was running long. He has more than a few unpaid staffers (that were not volunteers) who have left him. I found that telling.

      • Jill, I do feel sorry for the hardworking people who swallowed this man’s con. He cannot champion people who he has spent a career screwing over. It is all about Trump and it always will be. And, it can be said no plainer than that. Keith

  3. I live in Australia and, like many of my countrymen and women, am appalled at the huge swell of support for Trump that emanates from America. Good Lord! Does no-one do their homework? I know Hillary is pretty revolting as well … and both are puppets in the grand scheme of things … but the perspective from outside the US is that the citizens of the United States of America have lost their collective mind. Thanks for the great article. I will, indeed, do some research using the sources you’ve provided.

    • Many thanks. Being President is entirely about character and we have Trump who is devoid of any and Clinton whose Achilles Heel is she is too close to the vest at times. Yet, her greatest opponent is the carefully crafted caricature that has been built brick by brick over time based on many false or disproven allegations, but enough true mistakes to support the story.

      The former Mayor of New York, independent Michael Bloomberg knows both and says we must vote for the sane, experienced and competent candidate which is Clinton.

      To me, her belief in climate change with a plan to do something more is key, as Trump wants to tear up the Paris Accord on day one and do more coal.

      I probably gave you more in response than you wanted. I greatly appreciate your writing from downunder. Keith

    • Agreed. Gronda has been doing excellent work on this and I think one of my future emails will quote her. I saw an interest piece on PBS Newshour, that Clinton does not advertise. In her email in box at 5 am is a bible verse and words of encouragement from her Methodist minister. He knows she reads them as she responds to some of them. I found that very human, but she has rarely advertised her faith. Keith

  4. Note to Readers: Two interesting comments from Friday night’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Ultra-conservative author Ann Coulter tried to dismiss the accusations made against a Trump by saying “we all knew he had baggage and he is a lout. But, he is the only one who is talking about doing something for the working man.” Her first sentence is not a ringing endorsement and her second one is based on false pretense and does not stand up to scrutiny.

    Later in the show Andrew Sullivan, a British conservative columnist and author, said now is not the time to be Libertarian. We all must step up and vote to stop this “monster” in Trump. I had not heard that phrasing before, but found it telling. Sullivan is a frequent guest on Maher’s show and I find him to be very articulate in his arguments and has a good way of pushing back on Maher’s strong opinions. So, these comments are more relevant.

    • Linda, I would love to see more contractors and employees come our and say here is what this man did to me or my business.

      The reporters who did much of the domestic business reporting made the comment. Here is a man who in the middle of a housing crisis decided to start a mortgage company. This is a man with a real estate background starting a mortgage that did fail at the precise time he should not have.

      Think about that as he tells us how much he knows things and ends with “believe me.” Thanks for your comment, Keith

  5. Note to Readers: A story that should get more press was reported in The New York Times in August. Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino owed to the state of New Jersey back taxes and interest that had grown to just under $30 million. The case was in court, until it was settled for only $5 million while friend Chris Christie was Governor. While it is not uncommon to settle, a $25 million settlement is unheard of given the magnitude of the bill. It is nice to have friends in high places. This is what a rigged system looks like to me.

  6. Excellent post Keith.

    Ann Coulter has no credibility as a journalist. At this point she’s just another sad little clown.

    Andrew Sullivan has matured.

    I once loathed them both equally because Coulter as a woman and Sullivan as a gay men symbolized everything I thought was wrong about focusing on Civil Rights.

    They are both beneficiaries of the political activism of poor and lower middle class people and they both used their new ‘rights’ to enrich themselves at the expense of those people.

    As for Trump, he has crossed the line between empty rhetoric and treason so many times that it’s hard to believe the nation will have to endure 22 more days of his psychologically abusive strategies.

    Based on ads released by the RNC I have to assume that psychological abuse and outright deception is a strategy that the GOP endorses.

    Trump’s continued presence on the ticket is a reason for the voters to vote the GOP out of both houses of Congress.

    These men and women who continue to endorse in Trump the very things they say they so vehemently oppose in Democrats expose a cynicism and hypocrisy so profound that it is sickening to the soul.

    • Thanks Rob. I agree on Coulter, but don’t know enough about Sullivan. It boggles the mind that people cannot see Trump for what he truly is. As for the GOP, they have forsaken their dignity to support this man, who would lead America down a dark path.

    • Thanks for the link. The President has provide a lot tailwinds to the economic recovery which is our fourth longest ever. Just think how much further along we would be if we took advantage of low interest rates and invested in our infrastructure more on a collaborative bases. Just think if Republicans worked with Obama to improve the ACA rather than hamstring it. Just think if we looked at real data and issues and came up with solutions rather than play zero-sum politics.

  7. Dear Keith,

    I finally changed my party affiliation. I am no longer a registered republican but an independent. I can no longer support the republican party which has sold its soul to the likes of Donald Trump.They can keep him.

    Ciao, Gronda

    • Gronda, congratulations on your change. There are a lot of upsides to being an Independent. The lone downside is you get material from both parties, so twice the marketing spiel. I think our former party has lost their way and it will take time to figure out who they are, even if Trump wins. I just hope he has met his Waterloo. Keith

  8. Thanks for the clear and cogent summary of Trump’s business track record. Being clever at gaming the tax code and bankruptcy laws is the closest he comes to having any legitimate qualifications. That is not close enough for me.

    • Thanks for your comment. Of course, his keys to taking advantage of both is to lose a whole lot of money. I have written before how I don’t like that he makes most of his money renting his name to developers he has nothing to do with, so they can charge a premium to unwitting buyers. Keith

  9. Note to Readers: Reuters published a story online yesterday about the increasing number of investment managers who are openly against Trump citing his temperament and lack of qualifications. And, an increasing number are openly supporting Clinton. I found this interesting given their financial background.

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