Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Is Trump Even Really a Billionaire?

This is a legitimate question, which is becoming increasingly necessary to ask as more details about Trump's failed online university business scheme come out. Via Matt Ford at The Atlantic:

“Based upon my personal experience and employment, I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme, and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money,” said Ronald Schnackenberg, a sales manager at Trump University in 2006 and 2007.
Those declarations and other internal Trump University documents depict an aggressive, ethically dubious business model that targeted potential customers’ financial fears and socioeconomic anxieties and offered Trump’s personal brand as the solution—a strategy later echoed in his presidential campaign...

Via the Rude Pundit, who quotes from a 2006 (!) article from a Canadian reporter Kelly Roesler, the whole "Trump University" plan reads like a Ponzi scheme - relying on "Other People's Money" - than on genuine training over how to use real estate to earn success:

Roesler was subjected to everything that you've read: the hard sell, the "OPM" idea of using your credit cards to finance the expensive bullshit Trump U was flinging, the unrealistic promises of wealth. Roesler isn't part of the class action lawsuit because she saw through the screen of lies. Check it out and spread this around. It's contemporaneous evidence of what an unethical buffoon the Republican nominee is...

What strikes me is the sense of urgency, the push within the Trump University organization to bring in as many victims "students" as possible and have them all pay huge expenses towards anything and everything that organization could throw at them.

It's not so much that Trump is greedy - we know that, he brags about it - it's that Trump seems even back in 2006 so desperate for "Other People's Money" that there's more of a NEED for that money instead of a WANT.

The Balloon Juice people linked to an article from a site called HeatStreet, so let us check in with article writer Rick Wilson about what he knows:

By August of last year, I was working to convince major donors that Trump would be a destructive force and likely throw the race to Hillary Clinton. One moment from that period sticks with me as a turning point in my thinking about Trump’s money; a major Wall Street donor laughed when I told him we’d need to mount a serious and fully-funded effort to take on Trump if he chose to self fund.
My friend scoffed at the very idea that Trump was worth even a quarter of the mythical $10 billion, much less that he was liquid to the tune of more than $200 million. “He’s not a billionaire. I’m a billionaire. He’s a clown living on credit.”

While Wilson or his Wall Street friend didn't provide specific evidence, they are pointing at some very obvious clues: Trump's primary source of income is supposedly in real estate, a market known for its over-reliance on loans and credit based on the "value" of the property itself.

If anything, we're finding out that Trump owes money to a good number of banks. Wall Street Journal has him owing $250 million across the board, while he's in debt to $100 million to an overseas bank that can prove to be a serious Conflict Of Interest should Trump become President.

Okay, I'm asking here: if you were truly worth $10 billion, wouldn't you use some of that money cashed out - in hand - to pay off said debts? I mean, $100 million is less than a percent of $10 billion: you could pay off that debt and still have $9.99 billion to your name. Done and done. One less thing to worry about.

One of Trump's selling points during the Primary campaign was that nobody could "own" him because he was so independently wealthy. But if he's in this much debt to banks - debt he hasn't paid off with a portion of billionaire wealth he's supposed to have - how can he claim that? Those banks surely own him: what would happen if they started calling in that credit he owes?

And even Trump is admitting his so-called self-funded campaign is broke. What sustained his primary drive to victory was getting nearly free advertising from a fawning/terrified mass media industry that couldn't turn away from the clown show Trump was giving them. But now he's at a point where the Presidential nominee has to start footing the bill for all the fund-raisers and down-ballot candidates... and he's claiming now he doesn't have the cash he claimed he had.

Something stinks here, and we're nowhere near Denmark.

This needs to be an ongoing question at every press gathering, at every time Trump is at the podium: Is Donald Trump even really a billionaire?

Because all the evidence is pointing to him being a con artist instead.


Infidel753 said...

Trump U does make one wonder. Why would a guy worth ten billion even bother to scam people out of twenty or thirty thousand?

Some investigative reporter -- do we still have those? -- needs to get onto this.

dinthebeast said...

I also go with the Rude Pundit's idea for a campaign slogan/bumper sticker: Show us the money, Donald. The only (sort of) substance his campaign has ever had was that he's rich, and therefore successful. Without that, he has nothing. Truthfully, with that he has nothing. Like Molly Ivins said, guys who have made a lot of money in business have a real hard time working in a system of checks and balances. And now he's seemingly made a deal with Ryan for his support, so if you want Social Security and Medicare to still exist in 2020, go vote for Hillary, and make damn sure all of your friends and family do as well.

-Doug in Oakland

Paul Wartenberg said...

Doug, as Ivins says, yes that's true. Businessmen / CEO types do have that problem - think Hoover, think Bush the Lesser.

But did Donald even make a lot of money, period?!

The only money he's made has been selling his name for a trademark. It's been getting million-dollar TV deals for The Apprentice. It's not that Donald will have a hard time working in a system of checks and balances. It's that Donald will have a hard time working PERIOD.

/points to the failed casinos, airline, food deals, condos, etc.