A new deep dive into the Republican presidential candidate’s realty business has uncovered literally billions of dollars of undisclosed real estate debts owed by Donald Trump through public records searches. It also turns out that contrary to public perception, Donald Trump doesn’t actually own many of the properties upon which his tarnished brand name is stamped in large, gilded letters. Even his office headquarters on 40 Wall Street is leased; the new Trump Hotel in Washington, DC is another property in which the orange-faced businessman is just a long-term tenant. In one case, he actually borrowed over $150 million dollars with a lease as collateral!
But the big stunner is the revelation that enormous loans encumber much of the value of properties which account for Trump’s vaunted net worth and those debts are owed to numerous foreign entities like the Bank of China, and even to the bogeyman he (rightly) accused his
main Republican primary opponent religious extremist Ted Cruz of serving, but the despised Texas Senator only owes the bank roughly a million dollars. One of Donald Trump’s companies owes a literally Yuuuge amount of money to Goldman Sachs, which the New York Times reports:
For example, an office building on Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, of which Mr. Trump is part owner, carries a $950 million loan. Among the lenders: the Bank of China, one of the largest banks in a country that Mr. Trump has railed against as an economic foe of the United States, and Goldman Sachs, a financial institution he has said controls Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, after it paid her $675,000 in speaking fees.
An investigation by The New York Times into the financial maze of Mr. Trump’s real estate holdings in the United States reveals that companies he owns have at least $650 million in debt — twice the amount than can be gleaned from public filings he has made as part of his bid for the White House. Yet The Times’s examination underscored how much of Mr. Trump’s business remains shrouded in mystery. He has declined to disclose his tax returns or allow an independent valuation of his assets. The Times discovered that a substantial portion of his wealth is tied up in three passive partnerships that owe an additional $2 billion to a string of lenders, including those that hold the loan on the Avenue of the Americas building. If those loans were to go into default, Mr. Trump might not be held personally liable, but the value of his investments would sink.
The massive amount of debt already brings up some very serious conflicts of interest if Trump was to become President. Professor Richard Painter at the University of Minnesota specializes in helping wealthy public office holders remove apparent conflicts of interest (where an official benefits financially from his own decisions or harms others who compete with his financial holdings) and he said that Trump’s offer to place his children in charge of his company does very little to separate the man from his extensive, and opaque web of private companies:
Mr. Trump’s opaque portfolio of business ties make him potentially vulnerable to the demands of banks, and to business people in the United States and abroad, said Professor Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer. “The success of his empire depends on an ability to get credit, to get loans extended to his business entities,” he said. “And we simply don’t know a lot about his financial dealings, here or around the world.”
Professor Painter served in the Bush administration, and assisted former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (who urged fellow Republicans to choose country over party and vote for Hillary Clinton) in disposing of his tremendous holding of Goldman Sachs stock, from when he was the investment bank’s CEO as part of a “blind trust.”
Politicians and high government officials use blind trusts to let a trusted, independent person sell off the stocks and other assets they currently own, and replace them with other investments, which they do not know about. That way, the settlor or person who establishes the trust cannot make self-dealing decisions while participating in government service.
Donald Trump’s idea of letting his family manage a business centered around the use of his name, is the epitome of conflicted interest, because he’ll know about those properties and were he to (shudder) occupy the Oval Office, be easily able to gain benefit from his office.
Earlier this week, Trump confused journalists on both sides of the Atlantic, when he called himself “Mr. Brexit” – but his bizarre trip to Scotland offered just a taste of the kinds of conflicted interests which disqualify Trump from ever serving as our country’s President, when he commented that he was glad that the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, because his hotels would benefit from a weaker British Pound.
Americans cannot choose Donald Trump for President, because like most Republicans, he’d eagerly wreck the planet to squeeze out a few nickels for himself, and there’s no way someone whose entire business fortune is built on begging for foreign capital while insulting foreigners could possibly manage the job successfully.
What do you think?
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large and Podcast host for OccupyDemocrats. He's also mortgage broker, writer, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida.