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Stiffed Owner Reveals How Trump Wrecked His Family Business In Damning Op-Ed

During Monday’s debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump refuted accusations that he regularly refuses to pay people for the work they’ve done for him by saying “Maybe he didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work.” An outrageous cop-out that didn’t receive nearly enough attention as it deserved, Trump exposed himself once again for being a predatory, selfish thief that exploits and cheats American small businesses out of their labor and product when he knows they have no recourse.

J. Michael Diehl, the retired owner of Freehold Music Center in New Jersey, was one of Trump’s victims. He was forced to take a $30,000 loss because Trump’s casino refused to pay up – and he didn’t have the resources to sue. Diehl wrote about his experiences for the Washington Post, and it paints a bleak picture of an innocent man used and abused by the ultrawealthy Trump.

“Trump replied, “Maybe he didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work.”

I take that attack personally. I’m one of the many small business owners who’ve been used by Trump, exploited and forced to suffer a loss because of his corporation’s shady practices.

My relationship with Trump began in 1989, when he asked me to supply several grand and upright pianos to his then-new Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. I’d been running a music store for more than 30 years at that point, selling instruments to local schools and residents. My business was very much a family affair (my grandsons still run the store). And I had a great relationship with my customers — no one had ever failed to pay.

I was thrilled to get a $100,000 contract from Trump. It was one of the biggest sales I’d ever made. I was supposed to deliver and tune the pianos; the Trump corporation would pay me within 90 days. I asked my lawyer if I should ask for payment upfront, and he laughed. “It’s Donald Trump!” he told me. “He’s got lots of money.”

But when I requested payment, the Trump corporation hemmed and hawed. Its executives avoided my calls and crafted excuses. After a couple of months, I got a letter telling me that the casino was short on funds. They would pay 70 percent of what they owed me. There was no negotiating. I didn’t know what to do — I couldn’t afford to sue the Trump corporation, and I needed money to pay my piano suppliers. So I took the $70,000.

Losing $30,000 was a big hit to me and my family. The profit from Trump was meant to be a big part of my salary for the year. So I made much less. There was no money to help grow my business. I had fewer pianos in the showroom and a smaller advertising budget. Because of Trump, my store stagnated for a couple of years. It made me feel really bad, like I’d been taken advantage of. I was embarrassed.

Today, when I hear Trump brag about paying small business owners less than he agreed, I get angry. He’s always suggesting that the people who worked for him didn’t do the right job, didn’t complete their work on time, that something was wrong. But I delivered quality pianos, tuned and ready to go. I did everything right. And then Trump cheated me. It’s a callous way to do business.

Trump keeps saying that it’s time we got a businessman to run the country. Of course, I think it’s important to find someone who can bolster the economy. But I also think we need a president who cares about small business owners, and about honoring his commitments. That’s not Trump.”

Much has been written about Trump and his shady business practices, but it’s astounding when all put together.  His entire empire is built on the backs of extortion and lies. He tacitly admitted during the debate that he pays no income tax; when he develops golf courses, he makes local taxpayers shoulder the cost.

When he sells condos, he plots with mafia-linked Russians and then lies to his clients about the value of their investments. His modelling agency engaged in human trafficking to import illegal immigrants to work in the United States, who were then mistreated and underpaid.

He literally set up an elaborate Ponzi scheme masquerading as a “university” through which he scammed millions away from Americans who trusted him and his brand to help them advance a new career in sales; he took their hard-earned money and laughed in their face. He uses his public charity foundation as a piggybank to launder money through and to pay political bribes to settle some of his 3,500 lawsuits.

Donald Trump is a scumbag of gargantuan proportions, a man so consumed with greed that it’s almost a caricature. He would be the absolute worst President for the American middle class, as it’s that kind of exploitative attitude that wrecked the economy in the first place. Trump cheered when the market collapsed; that should tell you enough about how sincere his love for the American worker is.

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Colin Taylor

Colin Taylor is the managing editor of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.


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