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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Trump Sleaze

At Bloomberg, Zeke Faux and Max Abelson report on The Trump Building:
“Iconic and wonderful,” Donald J. Trump said at a South Carolina town hall event last year, praising the 86-year-old Art Deco tower as one of his great possessions. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee also told fans in Maine that critics who mock his failed companies should focus instead on the Manhattan skyscraper. “They don’t want to talk about 40 Wall Street,” he said.
But the 72-story building has housed frauds, thieves, boiler rooms and penny-stock schemers since Trump took it over in 1995 in what may be the best deal of his career. No single property in his portfolio is more valuable than 40 Wall St., according to a Bloomberg valuation of his assets last year. And no U.S. address has been home to more of the unregistered brokerages that investors complain about, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s current public alert list.
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Trump wrote in his 2008 book “Trump Never Give Up” that tenants at 40 Wall St. are “many of the top-notch businesses in the world.”

That was once the case. Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton’s nemesis, took an office at that site after founding the Manhattan Company, a forerunner of JPMorgan Chase & Co., in 1799. Work began on that spot 130 years later for the bank’s new tower, which was supposed to be the world’s tallest. It was bad timing. Not only did it lose the height race to the Chrysler Building, but Wall Street’s 1929 crash made renting out space difficult.
Seema Mehta reports at The Los Angeles Times:
As millions of people were losing their homes in the depth of the recession, instructors at Trump University were urging students to seek out anxious or desperate sellers to reap a financial windfall, according to recently released documents in the federal class-action lawsuit against presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The now-defunct for-profit real-estate school, founded by Trump and two associates in 2004, offered workshops on how to take advantage of the foreclosure crisis in some of the hardest hit states, including California.
Jonathan Martin reports at The New York Times:
As with Trump University, the Trump Institute promised falsely that its teachers would be handpicked by Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump did little, interviews show, besides appear in an infomercial — one that promised customers access to his vast accumulated knowledge. “I put all of my concepts that have worked so well for me, new and old, into our seminar,” he said in the 2005 video, adding, “I’m teaching what I’ve learned.”
Reality fell far short. In fact, the institute was run by a couple who had run afoul of regulators in dozens of states and been dogged by accusations of deceptive business practices and fraud for decades. Similar complaints soon emerged about the Trump Institute.
Yet there was an even more fundamental deceit to the business, unreported until now: Extensive portions of the materials that students received after forking over their seminar fees, supposedly containing Mr. Trump’s special wisdom, had been plagiarized from an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier. 
Michael Finnegan reports at The Los Angeles Times:
The Trump Baja fiasco fits a pattern in the Republican presidential candidate’s business record. Over decades of building a business empire in real estate, casino gaming, golf resorts, reality television and the sale of clothing and other merchandise, Trump has left a long trail of angry customers and vendors who accused him in court of cheating them.