While he likes to tout his so-called business successes, including his time running casinos in Atlantic City, investigative reporting in recent weeks has found that Donald Trump bullied and intimidated small businesses and employees alike, making millions at the expense of those he contracted. As the New Jersey Star Ledger stated on Monday in an editorial, Trump “excels at ripping people off,” a reminder that when he wins, hard-working Americans lose. The editorial followed the Star Ledger’s own experience covering Trump’s predatory and costly business practices, as well as a series of reports in media outlets across the country in recent weeks.
“If he ran the country like he ran his casinos, Donald Trump would crash our economy into the ground and rip off hard-working Americans in the process. The extent of the findings of investigative reporting in recent weeks makes it clear that Donald Trump is in it for himself, and that the American people can’t afford to let him anywhere near the White House.” – DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda
The Associated Press noted that Trump often paid his contractors at only a fraction of what they were owed, if anything at all. Some of those that worked on his failed Trump Taj Mahal property were forced to lay off workers and had to accept huge losses. At the same time, when the casino exited Chapter 11, Trump received a contract to manage the property. He “later folded the Taj into a publicly traded company holding other casinos. That company, eventually called Trump Entertainment Resorts, went on to lose hundreds of millions over a dozen years, collapsing into bankruptcy twice.” But, while Trump’s contractors lost out, Trump still “raked in $82 million in fees and salary and bonuses, according to Fortune magazine estimates.”
The New York Times looked at Trump’s time in Atlantic City and found that he “shifted personal debts to the casinos and collected millions of dollars in salary, bonuses and other payments.” Speaking about his dealings that left numerous contractors out in the cold and some waiting years to be paid far less than what they were owed, Trump said, “The money I took out of there was incredible.” He went on to say of his failed businesses, “Atlantic City was a very good cash cow for me for a long time.”
Here’s more coverage on Trump’s costly business practices in Atlantic City:
WASHINGTON POST // DREW HARWELL
Trump was the chairman of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts in Atlantic City from 1995 to 2009, his only outing as the head of a major public company. During that time, the company lost more than $1 billion, financial records show. He also was chief executive from 2000 to 2005, during which time share prices plunged from a high of $35 to as low as 17 cents. Trump received more than $44 million in salary, bonuses and other compensation during his time at the company, filings show. He also benefited from tens of millions of dollars more in special deals, advisory fees and “service agreements” he negotiated with his company. Trump’s campaign did not make him available to respond to specific questions about the company, but in a recent Washington Post interview, Trump said he “made a lot of money in Atlantic City,” adding, “I make great deals for myself.”. . . “He ran these companies into the ground,” Graef Crystal, an executive-pay consultant who watched the company at the time, said in an interview.
BUSINESS INSIDER // JEREMY BERKE
Donald Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City were not nearly as successful as the presumptive Republican nominee makes them seem in statements on the campaign trail, according to an investigation by The New York Times. In an investigative report published on Saturday, The Times found that Trump’s casinos were largely financial failures riddled with debt. One of Trump’s Atlantic City casinos, the Trump Plaza Casino and Hotel, is now shuttered, and another one, the Trump Taj Mahal, is under new ownership. Overall, profits at Trump’s Atlantic City casinos “consistently lagged,” behind his competitors, according to the Times.
NEW YORK MAGAZINE // CHAS DANNER
The New York Times is out with an extensive report about Donald Trump’s 25 years of business dealings in Atlantic City, dealings which the presidential candidate has cited as his golden era in the casino business, as well as one of the prime examples of his business (and free-world leadership) acumen, insisting that he is “very proud” of the enormous amount of money he made in the city. In fact, according to the Times report, the real estate mogul simply leveraged his name and reputation to promise greatness, but instead delivered financial catastrophe onto almost everyone involved but himself. . . Looking at the deals and aftermath en masse, Trump’s profitable failures do indeed demonstrate his business prowess — provided that is the business of making himself rich at the expense of others.
USA TODAY // STEVE REILLY
Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will “protect your job.” But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.. . .On just one project, Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, records released by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1990 show that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, including workers who installed walls, chandeliers and plumbing. The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump’s sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years. In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources. Some just give up the fight, or settle for less; some have ended up in bankruptcy or out of business altogether.
And here’s a sample of what Editorial Boards are saying:
STAR LEDGER // EDITORIAL BOARD
While Donald Trump is out smearing all Muslims for terror attacks and banning the press from covering his campaign events, let’s not forget what he did in Atlantic City. Some supporters have been willing to overlook his imbroglios, because he’s pitched himself for the presidency largely on his business acumen. He says we should trust him to manage our country because of his keen business sense. But should we, really? Consider the evidence. One of his highest profile ventures, his bankrupted Atlantic City casinos, was a slow-motion failure in which many investors and small business owners got fleeced — while Trump himself made millions.
PROVIDENCE JOURNAL // EDITORIAL
In November, barring unexpected developments, Donald Trump’s supporters will ask voters to elect the former real-estate mogul and reality TV star president of the United States. One of their key arguments is that he is an experienced dealmaker, accustomed to triumphing in high-risk, high-reward transactions. But the record says otherwise. Mr. Trump’s foray into the casino and hotel business in Atlantic City, perhaps the most high-profile of his business ventures, was a disaster for nearly everyone — except, as it turned out, for Mr. Trump. Creditors were stiffed, shareholders lost value, businesses were shut down, people were embittered: There is simply no way to regard them as successful deals. It is clear from the record, as The New York Times described in excruciating detail in a June 11 story. . . that Mr. Trump overpaid for properties, misjudged the value of his assets, assumed crippling levels of debt, shifted risks (and losses) to investors, took what was determined to be an illegal loan from his father to make an installment payment, sought protection in bankruptcy court four times and enriched himself by pulling money out of his operations, even as his casinos under-performed against their competition and failed to turn in even one profitable year.