Monday, February 29, 2016

Donald Trump Father's 1966 NY State Investigations Commission Hearing Testimony Revisited

In January 1966, the father of celebrity deal-maker-turned 2016 Republican party presidential candidateDonald Trump--Fred Trump [II]-- was, coincidentally, called by New York's State Investigations Commission to testify about how he made a lot of money from theTrump family business. And in 1992, former Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett's book, Trump: The Deals and The Downfall, recalled what happened at the hearing and what was revealed at the hearing:

"In January of 1966, Fred Trump suffered the worst public humiliation of his career. Hauled again before the State Investigations Commission--this time at a public hearing--and hounded by television cameras, he testified for several hours about such an array of abuses in Trump Village that the commission chairman, Jacob Grumet, blasted him...and asked state housing officials: `Is there any way of preventing a man who does business in that way from getting another contract with the state?'...Fred Trump was finished.

"He was grilled about an equipment-rental company he incorporated for this job, and the outlandish charges he was billing the state for secondhand trucks and back hoes. He charged $21,000 to lease a dump truck valued at $3,600. He billed $8,280 for two tile scrappers valued at $500 apiece, a ploy the commission cited as an example of Trump's `talent for getting every ounce of profit out of his housing project.'Fred [Trump] hid his ownership of the equipment company from the state, and state inspectors observed him using much of the equipment to build the adjacent shopping center, which certainly wasn't part of the state-subsidized project...

"...Only when faced with the threat of the hearings hadFred [Trump] returned to the state the $1.2 million he'd kept by overestimating his land costs. He'd banked the first land advances for over two years. He also had used the state excess to pay for the land he needed for his own shopping center and two other parcels covered in the city's description of the total site, but unused in the Trump Village development. [Then-State Division of Housing Auditor Leo] Silverman testified that Trump purchased these three large sections of the site for his own commercial development `without putting up a nickel of his own money'...Trump had overestimated his construction costs by $6.6 million [equivalent to over $48 million in 2015 dollars]. Since his builder's fee was based on a percentage of the estimated, not actual costs, he took what the commission called a $600,000 [equivalent to over $4.4 million in 2015 dollars] `windfall,' his additional fee based on the patently hyped cost predictions. When Silverman testified about this padding, tacked onto a $3.2 million fee Trump had alreadly collected as a percent of real costs, the commission was stunned..."

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