The Weiner Component #158 – Part 1: Donald J. Trump: The Presumptive Republican Candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

The Race to choose presidential candidates for both major political parties in the United States seems to be just about over now.  The presumptive candidate for the Republican Party is Donald J. Trump.


The Republicans will meet at the Quicken Loans Area from July 19 – 21 (M – TH) 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  There they will start with the meeting of the rules committee a week earlier, vote the 2016 rules into existence, choose the Presidential candidate, write their platform of what the Party stands for the next four years, and choose the Vice Presidential candidate.


Donald J. Trump, their Presumptive Candidate, presumably is their choice for President of the United States.  If he doesn’t make any more stupid verbal mistakes or if new negative material on his background doesn’t become available to the general public he may become their actual candidate.  Right now one bookie in Las Vegas is giving 12 – 1 odds against Trump getting elected, another is giving odds of 25 to 1.  Still another Las Vegas bookie is taking bets that Donald Trump will be impeached at some point if he is elected.


Of all the people that the Republicans could have chosen as their nominee for president, Donald Trump is the worst possible choice.  On a 1 – 10 scale with 1 being the least satisfactory number, Donald Trump rates a 0 or less.  With the blatant fabricating, erratic behavior and the information coming out about him his rating keeps dropping.  He could conceivably end up at a minus ten or higher.


From examining his history he represents everything negative about human beings.  He treats most of his employees in the same fashion as a man who hates dogs would treat the animals, like slime.  In business abuses virtually all the people who work for him are potential victims.  He is a liar who apparently can’t tell the difference between a falsehood and truth.  He also sees everything in terms of himself and what he can get out of everyone.  Donald Trump is a sad example of a human being.


Interestingly Donald Trump has claimed to be a billionaire, stating publically that he has over 10 billion dollars.  Originally he said that he is really rich and that he is self-funding his campaign and is therefore beholden to nobody, but now that he is the presumptive Republican candidate he claims that he can no longer afford to finance himself.  It would seem that he exaggerated the extent of his wealth.  He has not released any income tax forms to show how much he did or didn’t pay in taxes.  I would suspect he paid 0 in income taxes and doesn’t want to admit that to his public,.


Donald Trump, over the years, has used his name as a commodity, renting it out for a small percentage to innumerable products.  This has satisfied both his ego and his desire for additional money.


One of the items of which he was offered to add his mane was Trump University, an American, for profit, Education Company that would run a real estate training program.  A man named Michael Sexton created a business plan for a real estate training program and presented it to Donald Trump looking to pay Trump a flat fee for the use of his name.  Trump decided that he wanted to be the principle owner of this company.  He would own 93% of it after it was organized.


Trump University was incorporated in 2004 by Trump and two others as a New York limited liability company. It began operation on May 23, 2005.  It was a privately held, unaccredited school which did not give college credits, whose object was to make a profit for its owners.


Since it was unaccredited and did not offer college credit it was illegal under the laws of New York State which notified the business it was an illegal operation.  Trump was able to forestall changing its name for four years; after which the name was changed to the Trump Entrepreneur.  In 2011, the company became the subject of an inquiry by the New York Attorney General’s office for illegal business practices.  This resulted in a lawsuit filed in 2013, which remains ongoing.


rump University is also subject to two ongoing class action lawsuits in California Federal Court.  The lawsuits have centered on allegations that Trump University misled students into thinking that is was a real university whose instructors were hand picked by Donald Trump, when in fact they were not and it certainly wasn’t a real university.


In 2011 the office of the Texas Attorney General investigated Trump University.  After exchanging communications with investigators that included requests from the investigators for customer lists and internal documents, Trump University closed its operations in that state.  Once they went away the state dropped the investigation.


The focus of the seminar was real estate instruction.  Trump claimed in advertisements that he could turn anyone into a successful real estate investor.  The instruction began with an introductory seminar in rented space like a hotel ballroom.  The introductory seminar, which was free, urged students to sign up for additional classes, ranting from $1,495 to $35,000 for a “Gold Elite” program.  The records indicate that 7,000 tickets were sold to customers attending classes.  Approximately 6,000 of these tickets were for $15,000, for a three day course and 1,000 tickets were for silver, gold, or elite courses, ranging in price from $19,000 to $35,000.


The people who signed up were those desperate, for whatever reason, for money.  In order to get people to pay the so-called tuition the school had these people increase their debt limit on their credit cards to the maximum possible.  The excuse given was so that they could possibly jump into an immediate real estate deal of one became available.  The tuition was then charged to the credit card.  An interesting business plan to get those generally in debt to go into  greater debt to increase the profit for Trump’s company.


Trump said he “handpicked” the instructors but he testified in a 2012 deposition that he never selected the instructors for the program.  For a time in 2012, according to one of the other co-owners, Trump signed off on the school’s advertisements.  For a time in 2008 it used the name of “Trump Wealth Institute.”  The company ceased operating in 2010, after five years.


Three lawsuits have been file and are pending.  They assert the Trump University engaged in a variety of illegal business practices that range from false claims to racketeering.  Two are federal class-action lawsuits: one is against Trump University and its managers, including Donald Trump, and one it against Donald Trump personally.  These two lawsuits are in California.  There is a third case in New York, which has been in process since 2012 that is looking into criminal actions by Trump and his company.  Here Trump University is accused of being a “bait and switch” scheme and not a university.  Trump is accused of misleading over 5,000 people.


The first two cases will be heard in California by U.S. District Court by Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel..


Trump has traditionally used the courts and the law as a weapon against his opponents.  To him it is a means of extending legal cases until they are out of the financial range of the people suing him or he is suing.  He will delay as endlessly as possible the cases and then, if he loses, continue this process by appealing and , if necessary, re-appealing the case.  The Courts and the law have been his tool against people he cheats or wants to punish for whatever reason.  Most legal cases can take a very long time to be resolved.


In 2005 the New York State Department of Education sent Trump University a letter stating that they were violating state law by using the word “university” when they were not actually chartered as one and did not have the required license to offer instruction.  The organization promised to stop instructing students.  The New York Attorney General alleged that such instruction continued; Trump University was stalling.  It was not until March of 2010 that they dropped the word “university” and became “The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative/

On August 24, 2013, the State of New York filed a $40 million Civil Suit against Trump University.  They alleged illegal business practices and false claims made by the company.  Trump denied the allegations and claimed a 98% approval rating.  He called New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman “a political hack looking to get publicity.”  Trump filed a complaint alleging that the state Attorney General’s investigation was accompanied by a campaign donation shakedown; the complaint was investigated by a New York ethics committee and dismissed in August 2015.


On October 2014 the Court found Trump personally liable for operating the company without the required business license.  The case is still pending.


Taria Makaeff had paid nearly $60,000 to Trump University in 2008.  She brought a class action lawsuit against the university on April 30,2010, in the District Court for Southern California, seeking refunds for Makaeff and other former students of Trump University, as well as punitive damages for breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and bad faith.  The suit did not originally name Donald Trump as a defendant, but did so in a later amended complaint.


On May 26, 2010, Trump University filed a counterclaim that alleged Makaeff had made defamatory statements about Trump University, “including many completely spurious accusations of actual crimes,” that had caused the school losses of more than $1 million in los tuition.  On June 30, 2010, Makaeff countered that the defamation claim was an attempt to intimidate her.  Makaeff appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three judge panel ruled on April 17, 2013 that Trump University had to show malice on Makaeff’s part to establish defamation.  This returned the case to District Judge Gonzalo P, Curiel, who, on June 16, 2014, ruled in favor of Makaeff and dismissed the defamation claim.  Makaeff then, at the court’s invitation, presented evidence of her legal costs in connection with the defamation litigation.  She asked for $1.3 million.  Judge Curiel, on April 20, 2015, ordered Trump University to reimburse he $798,000 in legal fees and costs.


On March 21, 2016, over objections from Trump University attorneys, Judge Curiel allowed Tarla Makaeff to withdraw from the case as head plaintiff, and named Sonny Low to take her place.  The case is coming up in November 2016.


On October 18 2011, Art Cohen filed civil lawsuit, “Cohen b Trump,” in the U.S. District Court for Southern California, as a class action on behalf of consumers throughout the United States who purchased services known as “Live Events” from Trump University after January 1, 2007.  It alleged violations of the RICO Statue, being essentially a scheme to defraud.  The suit named Donald Trump as the sole defendant and sought damages, including punitive, and treble damages.  In an order dated October 24, 2014 U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P,. Curiel certified that Cohen had presented enough evidence to allow the lawsuit to proceed.


The general council for Trump University stated that the university would appeal the Curiel ruling.  He said it showed a “manifest disregard for the law.”  In October 2015 he stated that Trump would ask Curiel to recuse himself because of his “animosity toward Mr. Trump and his views.”  Trump’s lawyers have not filed any motion to bring this about.  According to legal experts such a motion would lack legal merit and probably be considered frivolous.  This could cause Trump’s lawyer to lose their licenses.


On May 27, 2016, Judge Curiel granted a request by the Washington Post for public release of documents that had been filed in the case.  He noted that they were “routine” and many were publically available.  These documents included “playbooks” documenting instructions for employees to use a hard-sell approach, and depositions from former employees of Trump University that stated that the university had defrauded and lied to its students.  This case is scheduled for a hearing on July 22, 2016.  If the result is negative for Trump he will delay the results by appealing the verdict..


During campaign speeches, Trump has revealingly called Judge Curiel a “hater.”  He has described him as Mexican or Spanish, even though he was born in New York City just like Donald Trump.  His parents were of Mexican decent unlike Trump whose parents were of German and Scottish decent.  Apparently because of intense Republican criticism from people like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, Trump has been silent lately about Judge Curiel.


According to an investigative article in USA Today hundreds of contractors and employees of Trump claim that he doesn’t pay his bills.  Generally with contractors he never makes the final payment claiming that the work is shoddy even though it has been approved by his general contractor.  With employees, like lawyers or ordinary workers, he just doesn’t pay them full for their services.  Interestingly he’s offered many of the contractors to whom he hadn’t given the final payment after the contract was completed, the opportunity to work for him again.  Employees, I suspect, that he’s finished with he sees no reason to pay fully.  In this fashion he has probably saved millions of dollars.  Lawsuits are expensive and take a lot of time; most people of companies can’t afford them; in many cases the lawsuit will cost more that these people or companies are owed by Trump.


In the early 1980s, when they were going through a surge of building casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey the Trump Organization constructed the Taj Mahal Resort Casino.  A Philadelphia cabinet maker bid and won a contract to produce the bases for slot machines, registration desks, bars, and other cabinets in the Trump Plaza casino.


Bidding is a complicated process: a number companies compete for the contract which goes generally to the lowest bidder.  The contractors have to figure their labor and material costs and come up with a reasonable profit.  If the price is too high he will be outbid.  The only place he can be reasonable is in his profit margin.  The profit margin has to be as small as possible.  The contract won by Edward Friel, Jr. was for $400,000.  Apparently the bid was low, virtually every dollar was needed in payment to make the venture a success for the subcontractor.

There is usually an initial payment, a middle of the job payment, and a final one after the job is completed.  The final payment, in this case, was for $83,000.  It contained the profit and some of the costs of building the bases.  This payment was never made, presumably because of shoddy work, even after approval by the general contractor.  But later Friel was offered the opportunity to bid for additional contracts.  Friel’s lawyer informed him that it would cost over $83,000 to sue for the debt if Trump choose to string the case out.  The cabinet company eventually went under.


Atlantic City records indicate that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time.  This also included workers who installed walls, chandeliers, and plumbing.


A USA Today Network analysis found that Trump had been involved in over 3,500 lawsuits over the last 30 years.  At least 60 lawsuit, in addition to liens, judgements and other government fillings documents where people have accused him and his business of failing to pay them for their work.  Among these a dishwasher in Florida, a glass company in New Jersey, a carpet company, a plumber, painters, forty-eight waiters, dozens of bartenders, and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs coast to coast.  This includes real estate brokers and even law firms that had represented him in some of these suits and others.  Trump doesn’t discriminate, he stiffs everybody.


Trump’s companies have been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005, for failing to pay overtime or the minimum wage.  This includes 21 citations against the now defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the former Trump Mortgage LLC in New York.  Both cases were resolved with back wages being paid.


In addition to these cases the review found over 200 mechanics liens that were filed by contractors and employees since 1980, the last 36 years.  The liens ranged from a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, New York air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm.  The number of companies and others alleging he hasn’t paid suggest the wither his companies hire inept workers and contractors, or that Trump businesses renege on contracts, refuse to pay, or consistently attempt  to change payment terms after work is complete.  This is alleged in dozens of court cases.


Trump has asserted that the cases were a long time ago.  But even as he campaigns for the presidency new cases are continuing.  In May of 2016Trump Miami Resort Management LLC settled with 48 servers at his Miami golf resort over failing to pay overtime for a special event.  The settlements averaged about $800 for each worker and a $3,000 settlement for one, according to court records.


In California and New York, at Trump facilities, hourly workers, bartenders, and waiter staff have sued with a range of allegations from not letting workers take breaks to not passing along tips to servers.  The California cade was settled, the New York one is still pending.


The owner of the Paint Spot in South Florida, has been waiting more than two years to get paid for work at Trump’s Doral golf resort.  In May 2016 Trump’s company refused to pay over $30,000 owed for work done.  In courtroom testimony, the manager of the general contractor for the Doral renovation admitted that a decision was made not to pay the Paint Spot because Trump “already paid enough.”  The judge ordered foreclosure of the resort and the proceeds of a sale of the facility be used to pay the money owed.  Trump’s attorneys have since filed a motion to delay the sale.  The Paint Spot still hasn’t been paid.

To be continued next week.