What Lies Beneath the Turf

[NB: check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

We learned this past week that the Westchester County, NY district attorney is investigating the Trump National Golf Club Westchester.

… The full scope of the investigation could not be determined, but the district attorney, Mimi E. Rocah, appears to be focused at least in part on whether Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misled local officials about the property’s value to reduce its taxes, one of the people said. …

While in the White House Trump declared on mandatory financial disclosure statements the Westchester golf course was worth $50 million; however the Trump org claimed the 140-acre property with its 75,000 square foot clubhouse was worth only $1.4 million for local tax purposes.

For comparison, nearby residential homes (currently listed for sale) are assessed at much higher rates:

Home A, 1.12 acres, listed at $1.5M, assessed at $1.03M ($2543/month taxes)
Home B, 2.75 acres, listed at $2.3M, assessed at $1.4M ($3768/month taxes)
Home C, 3.52 acres, listed at $2.7M, assessed at $2.5M ($4,400/month taxes)

While there may be some rationale for a commercial property assessed at such ridiculously low value compared to these residential properties within walking distance, it doesn’t make sense when golf courses are being converted to residential property during a contraction of the golf industry, and when the municipality and neighbors have had a history of sewer and drainage problems caused by the golf course, resulting in damage to individual and community property.

The gap between the local tax assessment and the financial report valuation has been known for years now, noted well before Election Day 2016.

The possibility of tax and insurance fraud by the Trump organization has been clear for years now as well, in no small part because of testimony before the House Oversight Committee in February 2019 by Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen (beginning at 4:43:30):


Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: OK. Thank you.
Second, I want to ask a little bit about your conversation with my colleague from Missouri about asset inflation. To your knowledge, did the President ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?
Mr. Cohen: Yes.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: Who else knows that the President did this?
Mr. Cohen: Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman, and Matthew Calamari.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: And where would the committee find more information on this? Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?
Mr. Cohen: Yes, and you would find it at The Trump Org.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: Thank you very much.
The last thing here. The Trump Golf organization currently has a golf course in my home borough of the Bronx, Trump Links. I drive past it every day going between The Bronx and Queens. In fact, The Washington Post reported on the Trump Links Bronx course in an article entitled “Taxpayers Built This New York Golf Course and Trump Reaps the Rewards.”
That article is where many New Yorkers and people in the country learned that taxpayers spent $127 million to build Trump Links in a, quote, “generous deal allowing President Trump to keep almost every dollar that flows in on a golf course built with public funds.” And this doesn’t seem to be the only time the President has benefited at the expense of the public.
Mr. Cohen, I want to ask you about your assertion that the President may have improperly devalued his assets to avoid paying taxes. According to an August 21, 2016, report by The Washington Post, while the President claimed in financial disclosure forms that Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, was worth more than $50 million, he had reported otherwise to local tax authorities that the course was worth, quote, “no more than $5 million.”
Mr. Cohen, do you know whether this specific report is accurate?
Mr. Cohen: It’s identical to what he did at Trump National Golf Club at Briar Cliff Manor.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: To your knowledge, was the President interested in reducing his local real estate bills, tax bills?
Mr. Cohen: Yes.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: And how did he do that?
Mr. Cohen: What you do is you deflate the value of the asset, and then you put in a request to the tax department for a deduction.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: Thank you.
Now, in October 2018, The New York Times revealed that, quote, “President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990’s, including instances of outright fraud that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents.” It further stated for Mr. Trump, quote,  “He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing his tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.”
Mr. Cohen, do you know whether that specific report is accurate?
Mr. Cohen: I don’t. I wasn’t there in the 1990’s.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: Who would know the answer to those questions?
Mr. Cohen: Allen Weisselberg.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: And would it help for the committee to obtain Federal and State tax returns from the President and his company to address that discrepancy?
Mr. Cohen: I believe so.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez: Thank you very much. I yield the rest of my time to the chair.

Here’s the rub: Trump’s dispute with local tax authorities in Westchester County, NY and the disparity in its property valuation goes back more than five years; this is publicly known, amply reported, even discussed here at emptywheel.

Why is it only after the August 2021 election of a new district attorney, Mimi Rocah, took office was the possibility of tax and insurance fraud finally investigated?

The Westchester course is only one of 11 in the U.S., though. They include:

Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, NJ
Trump National Golf Club, Charlotte, NC
Trump National Golf Club, Colts Neck, NJ
Trump National Golf Club, Hudson Valley, NY
Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter, FL
Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles, CA
Trump National Doral Golf Club, Miami, FL
Trump International Golf Club, West Palm Beach, FL
Trump National Golf Club, Pine Hill, NJ
Trump National Golf Club, Washington, DC

In reports to the Federal Election Commission, Trump reported more than half of these were worth $50 million or more while regularly suing the snot out of local tax authorities who dared to assess Trump golf courses for values higher than a million or two.

Again, this has been known and reported for years. Trump has and continues to treat every real estate asset as it were the reason for a SLAPP-type suit to cow government to his demands. It’s a pattern.

Why have the local, state, or federal governments failed to investigate these courses in the same way Westchester County is now investigating Trump National Golf Club Westchester?

Especially after Michael Cohen not only testified that golf courses came up as a means to launder payments to Stormy Daniels, and that asset valuations were skewed artificially to reduce Trump’s insurance premiums? It’s not as if there hasn’t been adequate reason to investigate this pattern of deflated asset valuations.

It’s been more than two and a half years since Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee that the Trump org reported deflated assets to reduce tax exposure while making false statements to the FEC and the public about golf course market value.

How many more years will pass before another domestic Trump golf course is investigated?

87 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    This situation irritates the fuck out of me. If money laundering was so casually discussed with Michael Cohen using golf courses plural to address a single issue, how many times have the Trump courses been used to launder money for more issues?

    And yet nothing seems happen — no investigations into the Trump courses save for Westchester, even when the false statements are right there. No investigations of tangential resorts like Mar-a-Lago which was involved in the background of a human trafficking charge related to Ghislaine Maxwell.


  2. Zinsky says:

    Excellent questions and I am glad someone is finally exposing the long pattern of tax evasion (not avoidance) that has been a distinguishing feature of Donald Trump’s wretched life. As a retired CPA, I can safely assert that the facts described above go far beyond what the typical uberwealthy individual does to minimize their tax liability. As far back as the 1980s and 1990s, Trump obtained and misused tax abatements, TIF funding and simply manipulated book vs. tax asset valuations to obtain favorable tax treatment that danced on the edge of criminality. Here is an article from 1994, describing some of his tax chicanery: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-03-29-fi-39687-story.html

    The sad part of this is the underlying societal inequity involved. By not paying the amount of tax that he rightfully owes on these properties, Trump is denying the Commonwealth of New York the funds to which all of its residents are entitled, just so that one man can benefit. That is wrong. In any case, I hope this line of inquiry finally leads to criminal charges against Donald Trump and his associates. Mimi Rocha is one smart lady and I hope she will bring fair and swift justice at long last. Thanks for this post.

    • Theodora30 says:

      Trump’s niece Mary puts a lot of blame on the NY area media for ignoring Trump’s blatant criminality for decades because they preferred to treat him as a colorful local celebrity. The Village Voice’s Wayne Barrett was a rare exception. Barrett started covering Trump’s unlawful scams back in the 80s; the Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Cay Johnston began serious coverage of Trump when he entered the casino business in Atlantic City. There is no way the major NY media outlets weren’t fully aware of the facts that these two journalists were reporting, but as happens far too frequently the media preferred sticking with their preferred narrative of Trump rather than reporting the truth. Had the NY Times put a spotlight on Trump’s misdeeds there is no way prosecutors would have been able to ignore them.

      • Rayne says:

        I kept wondering why the news media hadn’t interviewed gossip columnists about the dirt they had on Trump. News media especially in New York treated Trump like he wasn’t worth coverage when he and his businesses must have cost millions in lost tax revenues. Yet gossip columnists like Liz Smith knew where Trump buried the bodies so to say.

        Unless gossip columnists were co-opted to prevent revelations, which also should have been noted by competing media.

        • BobCon says:

          A big part of the problem is the way press outlets are stovepiped, and reporters and editors from the big national and political beats refuse to collaborate with or even read coverage from other beats.

          The Trump tax fraud series in the NY Times is a classic example — it was broken and reported by the investigative desk at the Times, and there was a weird silo placed around it.The political reporters acted as if it wasn’t there, doing no followups in DC, and never incorporating any of its issues in their own reporting.

          Reporters covering personal stories are treated even worse, which is why Trump’s long assault record is ignored or relegated to the back burner by political reporters. Not their beat, not their problem, and editors will never insist that their team work with other beats unless events blow up.

          It’s been this way with Covid, for that matter, where political reporters have endlessly ignored what health reporters have written about the longterm trends and impact and constantly settled for what uninformed political sources say to minimize the threat.

          This tunnel vision has been a disaster, and the powers at places like the Times can’t see it and can’t begin to comprehend how much damage they are doing to themselves.

          • Rayne says:

            Yeah, there’s not only a silo but an industry cultural ghettoization of some reporting — gossip is bottom of the barrel, no self-respecting investigative journalist wants to be caught near it. Trump’s trashy glitz image built before The Apprentice made him look more like gossip and tabloid content than legitimate news material; after The Apprentice and its decade-plus laundering of Trump’s image, he’s news material but old habits of avoiding gossip topics die hard.

            So they didn’t dig in very deeply and we’re left with this ~waves around at the flames~

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Rayne, I’m so glad to see you valorize gossip reporters, an essential and overlooked journalistic category for as long as journalism has been practiced. “Gossip” is inextricably associated with women, and the great gossip columnists of the last century were almost all women (or gay men), so our culture reflexively trivializes their work.

          I’m seeing an interesting updated version of this in the reception granted Michael Wolff’s books about the Trump years. The Costa/Woodward-authored Peril has generated (according to Bob Costa, who’s telling this to Terry Gross on NPR right now) aspects of the January 6 inquiry, testimony to its seriousness. Wolff’s Landslide, however, never got that kind of reception; Wolff makes no apology for his role as gossip curator of the highest order.

          I don’t have time to just read for fun; whatever I read has to feed my research. But I will defend to the death my choice of high-toned gossip; I have learned more from Landslide than any of the serious Trump books. Thank you for correctly (to me) locating gossip’s value for anyone researching the historical record. Overlook it at your, well, Peril.

          • Rayne says:

            Some gossip is sketchy, but we’ve seen reporting which has shaken up industry from gossip outlets — like TMZ’s coverage of Ray Rice’s wife battering back in 2014.

            The ghettoization of gossip has been co-opted by hostile entities, though, explaining why we don’t see some stories emerge — like the catch-and-kill practices of David Pecker at National Enquirer. Stigmatizing gossip news reporting makes it easy to “leak” threats and extort hush money. Once National Enquirer was upended by the Stormy Daniels-Trump situation, investigative journalists should have picked over the bones of gossip to find more on Trump+family. We got bupkis instead.

      • Super Nintendo Chalmers says:

        If you go back at how the very same NYC area media covered John Gotti, aka the “Dapper Don,” you see myriad similarities.

        • Theodora30 says:

          I have though the same thing. Many Americans, including many in the media are enthralled by mobsters. Power and wealth impressive them greatly.

      • ernesto1581 says:

        “…the [NY] media preferred sticking with their preferred narrative of Trump rather than reporting the truth.”

        Perfect example: Trump on the Ocean.

        Proposed to be built on perhaps the most beautiful and well-used of Robert Moses’s projects, Jones Beach, a 6 1/2 mile stretch of public beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Trump pitched the project (with caterer/developer Steve Carl) in 2006 as a luxurious, gold-hued, 1,500-seat venue emblazoned with his name. Initially budgeted at $40 million, then scaled back to $24 million as controversy about the project mounted. Two earlier, very much more modest, incarnations of the restaurant had occupied the same site since 1936. Assurances flowed from the day one that the project would be “…funded completely by the private sector and will only serve to promote economic growth within our communities,” $1.5 billion would flow into the state over the lifetime of the lease earmarked for the maintainance of state parks throughout NYS, 300 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs would be created, and “… $60 million in impact to our local economy during the construction phase and over $600 million over the life of the lease.” [jonesbeacchalliance.org.]

        State and local politicos swooned. None of these numbers bore any resemblance to reality. There is no doubt the public would have been stiffed, once again. Jones Beach was already a world-class destination; it didn’t need Trump to hang gold toilet seats on the walls.

        The story of Trump’s bloviating, browbeating, threats, and lawsuits is familiar:

        January 2004: NY State parks department requests proposals for replacement.

        September 2006: Plans announced for Trump on the Ocean — 75,000 square feet on a footprint of 37,291 square feet and a height of 28 feet. Includes 26,710-square-foot basement with offices and kitchens (below grade, in a flood zone.)

        December 2007: A state environmental review board rejects variance required for basement.

        March 2008: Variance is denied a second time.

        March 2008: Trump proposes two new plans quickly rejected by state: one totaling 72,000 square feet on a 37,700-square-foot footprint, 43 feet high and no basement; the second for 81,200 square feet, all at ground level with a height of 32 feet.

        March 2008: Trump files lawsuits against state seeking a variance for a basement including a kitchen/workspace and $500 million in damages. Among other objections, NY State is concerned that workers in the basement could be trapped and drowned by a storm surge. State prevails on appeal.

        June 29, 2012: Trump and state reach agreement on 80,000-square-foot building with 14,000-square-foot storage-only basement as allowed by building code. Restaurant would accommodate more than 400 people, catering areas up to 1,250 people. Trump’s 40-year-lease would be restarted. (Trump had signed forty-year lease in 2008, then claimed a mulligan once “agreement” had finally been reached.)

        Dec. 26, 2012: Superstorm Sandy utterly levels the site (along with much of the famed boardwalk); Trump & state commissioner of parks announce project is canceled.
        [Newsday timeline.]
        Sometimes the good Lord does work in mysterious ways…

        Just for sake of comparison: Lewis Mumford, no great fan of Robert Moses, nevertheless wrote about Moses’s projects: “The great merit, indeed, of all of Mr. Moses’ park developments from the magnificent seaside park at Jones Beach to his smallest municipal playground, is that every spot that his architects and planners touched bears the mark of highly rational purpose, intelligible design, and esthetic from. No spot is too mean, no function too humble to exist without the benefit of art.”

      • posaune says:

        Yes, this. The NYT has played favorites with the RE industry for decades — especially the Trumps. (until the expose Earl references which was longgggg overdue.)

        • Hika says:

          There aren’t too many old newspapers that have been eager to swing hard at the real estate industry. Hmmm. How much of the business model of those papers involved revenue from RE advertising of one sort or another? A few decades ago it was the core of their businesses. I don’t know how much they rely on RE nowadays.

  3. Lawnboy says:

    Fwiw, Your northern neighbour avoids all this drama by deeming the links as a “farm”, and thus taxed as same. Ya, a sod farm.

    yup, my first gig, hence, Lawnboy

    • Rayne says:

      One of the courses takes tax credits for being a farm since it allows a few goats to graze on a patch of the course.

      Calling these courses sod farms doesn’t mitigate the possibility of insurance and bank fraud, and still doesn’t resolve money laundering issues.

    • Geoguy says:

      That would be the property in Bedminster, NJ. See this article in Business Insider: “How Trump used goats to cut millions of dollars off his local property taxes, and paid just $700 last year” by Warren Rojas, Sep 20, 2021. I live in the same congressional district as the club, not the “horse and hunt” end but the grittier east side. There are maybe a few hundred very wealthy families out there using that tax dodge while we little people with high property taxes get whacked with the SALT deduction limit. I suspect that generally, authorities look the other way with people like Trump because his operation inflates property values and taxes for eveyone else.

  4. GKJames says:

    Good question. Could it be that local jurisdictions have neither the human nor financial resources to engage in protracted litigation over property values? They may see it as, Some (if less than optimal) tax revenue is better than none.

    • Rayne says:

      That was my point about Trump treating tax disputes like SLAPP suits — he made it difficult for local tax authorities to obtain what he owed through litigation.

      The Westchester course exemplifies the problem for local tax authorities: the damage done to the community’s resources isn’t compensated by the taxes Trump paid, either as property taxes or as income taxes on employees hired from the area. Some of the expenses incurred by the course’s existence ended up on insurers and a broader range of insured who pay premiums to the same companies. Trump courses are grossly inequitable when property taxes aren’t paid or are whittled down.

      • Rugger9 says:

        A Scottish court is considering an Unexplained Wealth Order about how Trump Org could buy golf courses while simultaneously declaring bankruptcy, we’ll have an answer in a couple of weeks apparently. It’s not just the USA with this issue.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Scotland will act on that unexplained wealth order shortly after it becomes independent from the United Kingdom. Tories are as dependent on wealthy donors, many now apparently foreign, as is the GOP, and Tory grandees play just as many secrecy and tax avoidance schemes as does Donald. So, while there’s pressure to use UWOs, there is much more pushback from the Crown on down.

        • Hika says:

          Scottish independence is quite likely as the fallout from Brexit continues to harm the UK, but it won’t happen in a trice. It will take several years at the very fastest possible pace. Lots of Russian money supporting the oligarchs’ party of choice in the UK as well as the US, and that’s no accident. Once the Russians promulgated “Workers of the world, Unite!” The turnabout is quite a bitter irony.

          • Mojo Risin' says:

            Not really ironic, in that Soviet Bolshevism was always much more a reactionary force than a genuine expression of a real spirit of solidarity in Russian culture.

            Russia has always been a much better cultural soil for extreme royal authoritarianism, which is why Bolshevism basically became that.

          • Lulymay says:

            I read not that long ago that most of the most expensive properties in London (its all very expensive) is now in the hands of Russian oligarchs. The other part is that it appears that most of the money moved out of Russia is through Deutche Bank. Isn’t that the same bank that the guy still promoting himself as the real duly elected president owes a whack of money to and that payment is due in the near future? I’m going from memory here and it is getting rusty!! but it seems that those dots have been connected on some threads.

  5. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    $50MM to $1.4MM?

    Sweet baby jeeeezuz, talk about chutzpah…

    This isn’t minor league tax fraud, if true…

    This appears to be stand-on-the-tips-of-your toes and scream-it-in-your-face tax fraud…

    It’s almost like he’s daring the world to do something about it…

    I thought I read somewhere that the Trump Org would turn around and also over-inflate the value of a property when using it for collateral on a loan?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Your last point is supported by the NYT’s expose on Trump’s taxes. He seems to treat any asset of his more than 500 companies as part of his personal piggy bank, and treats liabilities as if they don’t exist. That’s a recipe for serial criminality.

      • subtropolis says:

        This is the reason that his claims of how much he was worth have historically been all over the place. In a deposition, he once stated (paraphrasing) that the value of his assets was based upon how he felt at the time. No, it depended upon to whom he was reporting it.

    • Opiwan says:

      Put into “middle-class” context:

      $50M devalued to $1.4M for tax purposes is like having bought your single family home for $250K in York County, PA, (where I live), and bullying the local tax bureau to value it at $7,000 so your annual tax bill is somewhere on the order of $30. That would make those escrow payments in your monthly mortgage VERY small, right?

      What a nice deal, if you can get it!

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Many thanks for returning to one of your most popular topics. The analogy with SLAPP seems spot on. It seems to partly explain why local and state governments have refused to hold Trump to account: contending with those would swamp their legal budgets and alienate other political donors. Still, that seems short-sighted, given the probable level of tax avoidance overall and the chilling effect of holding a few high-profile people to account.

    But Trump has become an existential threat to democracy, and holding him to account for any of the likely many crimes he’s committed is one way to defend against his assaults on it and the rule of law. I can understand why Florida refuses to pursue Trump, but the refusals by NY, NJ, and CA are harder to explain.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      This, right here…

      “But Trump has become an an EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO DEMOCRACY…”

      I couldn’t agree w/ you more…

      And by extension, he and the GQP have become an existential threat to the entire world…

      Tax fraud… loan fraud… insurance fraud… bank fraud… wire fraud…

      IANAL but in Trump’s case aren’t those all so intertwined at both the state and federal level that it’s next to impossible to untangle them and look at them individually?

      And then there’s always money laundering…

      Talk about a one man crime wave…

      I still doubt he’ll ever be personally charged in relationship to anything he said or did in regards to Jan 6 but if he spends the rest of his life completely entangled in financial crimes and/or civil suits, I’m okay w/ that…

    • posaune says:

      I’d like to see Rocah go after insurance fraud, so that all the insurance policies are cancelled, and the C of O’s revoked (at least in NYC).

      • Rayne says:

        Oh. Oh my. Revocation hadn’t even occurred to me. I wonder if there were any claims by the Westchester course related to the flooding Trump’s course caused.

        Hope NYS doesn’t have a situation where an insurance regulating entity in its DFS gets involved in such investigations and prosecutions.

        • posaune says:

          Rayne, the way the golf course was likely graded, I’m willing to bet the plan didn’t follow the approvals either. Those APOs (adjoining property owners) could file a lot of claims.

          • Rayne says:

            I haven’t looked at a satellite map of the course to check location of its ponds and the areas in the community which were flooded. One of these days I’m going to have to do that.

    • CD54 says:

      That’s just half of it. The other half is that money always wins.

      Moderate Democrats are about to sell out Americans to drug companies

      Bernie Becker / Politico:
      Manchin: IRS reporting requirements likely ‘going to be gone’ from spending bill

      ‘Billionaires tax’ tension threatens to sap Dems’ momentum for $1T-plus deal

      Fox Business:
      Key House Democrat skeptical of billionaire tax, calls it ‘challenging’ to implement

      Rep. Richard Neal, the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee

      Not just Sinema: Sen. Bob Menendez took $1M from pharma; shoots down bill to lower drug costs

      Maybe an adjunct to the Texas law; let citizens sue for a bounty any time someone commits tax fraud. /s

  7. Raven Eye says:

    Loudoun County; VA is home to the Trump National Golf Club, Washington, DC (Property Identification Number: 005401940; Legal Acres: 487.213). The 2021 Fair Market total is $21,888,814, and the total taxable is $21,888,810. Those values in 2017 were both $23,730,100.* Imagine the value 487 acres of Loudoun County land; between the Potomac and Route 7, and on the border with Fairfax County.

    However, the Loudoun County numbers appear to be a bit closer to reality than some of the other reporting we’ve seen, but who knows how they relate to real values vs. the “over $50,000,000” in Trump’s 2019 financial disclosure. Colt’s Neck, NJ and Westchester also show the same over $50M asset value. Incomes reported for the three golf courses in 2019 were $6,775,959 (Colt’s Neck), $7,213,358 (Westchester), and $13,318,369** (Washington / Loudoun).

    The gaps between the numbers are mind-boggling.

    Interesting (at least to me) is that we have a special county election in a few days. The only county-wide item is a change to the County Charter that “Amends County Charter to Make County Assessor Not Elected Position”. This is after the current elected assessor apparently failed to correct errors that cost the county nearly half a million dollars in taxes.

    Currently the Charter’s requirements for the elected assessor are (a) citizen, (b) 18 years of age or older, (c) resident of the county for one year at the time of the election, (d) a state registered assessor or trainee assessor (required to be registered within two years of election), and (e) two years of office and accounting experience. Not impressive.

    Frankly, there is plenty of room for concern about electing an assessor. Who funds the candidate? Do they own property? Which of the assessors of Trump Organization properties were elected?

    * There is almost always that gap between a property’s assessed value and what today’s market value really is — my house’s assessed value is probably about 85% of what I could sell it for – the local market having pushed the likely selling price up more than 30% in two years while the assessed RMV only wen up about 12%.
    ** One might wonder how much of the Washington club’s income was from the federal government.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      ‘The gaps between the numbers are mind-boggling.’

      Right… that was what I reacted to, above…

      The gall is astonishing… it’s like he’s daring the world to do something about it…

      Seeing how long he’s been getting away w/ this kind of behavior, it’s not surprising that he feels he can tell whatever lie he wants, w/ impunity…

      • Leoghann says:

        Part of it is indeed Trump daring someone to do something about it. But a bigger part is that he’s gone for so many years getting away with whatever he’s wanted to do that he’s convinced he’s somehow entitled. From what his niece Mary says, his daddy taught him that, because he was the sibling who won.

  8. Hug h says:

    If we had healthy functioning tax, regulatory, legal, banking, capital market, media (etc…) systems, Donald Trump would have been CHEWED UP AND SPIT OUT long before he got near the White House.

    • Rayne says:

      Yup. That. And the three administrations before Trump along with the corresponding Congresses each played a role in weakening financial and media sectors, from the death of Glass-Steagall Act during Clinton’s admin, the loss and lack of response to ACORN’s assassination under Obama, to the lack of adequate protections against media consolidation under all three presidencies.

  9. Jenny says:

    Thanks Rayne. Great title “What Lies Beneath the Turf?” Answer: A serial cheater.

    A company with two books is always questionable for “hide and cheat.”
    Cheated on all 3 wives, cheated his workers, cheated students, cheated on taxes and cheated at golf (Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump by Rick Reilly).

    How and why President Trump cheats at golf — even when he’s playing against Tiger Woods

    • Rayne says:

      I never understood why Tiger Woods would play with Trump. I don’t care if Trump was in the White House; TFG was and is a known cheat on the course so why taint himself playing with him? Did Woods sell himself out that badly with that Trump-branded course development project in the Middle East that he couldn’t say no?

      And then there’s the entire issue of cheating. Why weren’t more capital-class golf course members disgusted with Trump before he even ran for office? I swear there’s psychology here at work many of us who aren’t sportsy don’t get, one which tends to be split along gender lines — the kind of psychology behind Umberto Eco’s “sports chatter” and the admiration of an adversary even when they are a motherfucking scumbag cheater.

        • Mojo Risin' says:

          I seriously worry that an entire younger generation of conservatives will grow up glamorizing this DeSantis era, and it will be a template for a new kind of Peronism that lasts decades.

      • madwand says:

        Tiger Woods it may be remembered was quite a cheater himself at least in regards to marital fidelity. Perhaps birds of a feather?

        • Rayne says:

          Oh, I’m sure there’s that but if Woods had ever been caught cheating on the course? Can you imagine the shit storm around a mixed-race golfer cheating and also “taking” the white men’s prized green coat five times?

          I have a feeling the cheating off the course set Tiger up for more off-the-links compromise; I can’t think of another reason he’d need the money enough to get Trump stink on him.

  10. gmoke says:

    Then there’s Donald J Trmp State Park:
    “Trump purchased the property in 1998 with plans to build a $10 million private golf course. Totalling $2.5 million, it was purchased in two sections: Indian Hill for $1.75 million and French Hill for $750,000. The land contained significant wetlands and development faced strict environmental restrictions and permitting requirements. He donated it in 2006 after he was unable to gain town approvals to develop the property. At that time Trump claimed the parcel was worth $100 million. He used the donation as a tax write-off. The donation was praised by governor George Pataki. ”
    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_J._Trump_State_Park

    $2.5 million to $100 million is some real estate inflation.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’d be happy if all his properties got reassessed and taxed at their proper value, and his “donated” land got the overcharges refunded to the state.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      He also avoided paying – and the government didn’t collect – $30 million or more in tax on other income. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

  11. Alan K says:

    Well, I live in Westchester and have served on a local planning board, so I couldn’t help but notice that the Donald’s plans were thwarted by “us” – the local planning boards!

    Four or five volunteers, arms brimful with thick engineering documents, walking through the gorgeous lower Hudson Valley landscape… if we don’t approve, it doesn’t get built. We get our share of criticism. We get it. We all live here and we totally understand how frustrating it is to have to go in front of us. But being a volunteer board, we don’t have political careers so it is not easy to roll us.

    On the other hand, it takes real political courage for a Westchester politician to go after Trump. It’s a sign of how far he (and his party) have fallen in this area, which is generally speaking a Republican county even when the local pols are Dems. The 2020 primaries down here blew away a famous Westchester DINO coalition, which probably helped topple Governor “Name that Bridge after my Father” Cuomo. (Come to think of it, renaming the Tappan Zee Bridge may have been a major factor…raises my blood pressure every time.)

  12. Mojo Risin' says:

    This has nothing to do with optics, media framing, etc, it’s a simple matter of five families interests having every prosecutor and tax official locked down in NY state since the Eisenhower era.

    Minnesota has many lakes, New York has many syndicates. What it doesn’t have is honest cops, prosecutors, or tax officials. Not enough to fill the smallest elevator in Midtown.

    • Rayne says:

      And yet it’s a New York county which has begun investigating the first of 11 Trump courses in the U.S.

      I suppose next you’ll claim every county in which there’s a Trump golf course is corrupt down to the dogcatcher in spite of documented histories of disputes between local tax authorities and Trump+Trump org. ~eye roll~

      Put the blame where it belongs, on the man whose history of criming spawned this post.

      • gmoke says:

        I believe the “five families” reference is to the Five Families of the Mafia around NYC, who’ve been around a lot longer than since the Eisenhower administration but may now be superseded by the Russian mob.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes. That part I got. I once represented a member of one of them. I just found the use by that commenter as kind of silly.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    How FL’s new Surgeon General got his job: a joint appointment with the UF Medical School. DeSantis hired a Harvard mouth, not a Surgeon General. From the rushed, preordained result and sweet deal, I thought DeSantis was hiring Nick Clegg. (h/t @jimwhitegnv)

    Lapado must be tired of practicing medicine and wants to practice southern politics instead. DeSantis, another Harvardian, should be careful. If he runs for president, he’ll find Lapado banging on the door of the governor’s mansion before he loses his first primary.

    Lastly, Harvard has a lot to answer for (DeSantis, Cruz, Pompeo, ad nauseum). Its admission’s process, like Yale’s, seems to prefer raw ambition and money-making over everything else. If it were human, when it arrived at the Pearly Gates, it would take St. Peter millennia to read the charges.


    • Rayne says:

      This is the point when investigative journalists should be digging like crazy into Ladapo’s background because any aspirations for higher office should be squelched RTFN.

      It interests me that doing a search for Ladapo’s family there are so few entries with that name — as if it was never recorded in internet-mediated public records or stripped off the net.

        • Rayne says:

          Not buying that, PJ. Here’s an example of an extremely similar name, Oladapo, which is somewhere between the 500-600th most common surnames in Nigeria. If I search for “genealogy Oladapo” I get plenty of entries.

          My hinky meter is going off.

  14. Ravenclaw says:

    Just for fun: If you considered golf course land to be agricultural in nature (the “sod farm” someone alluded to earlier), then the appraisal might not be too far out. Without analyzing each acre for its agricultural value (organic soil, mineral soil, wooded, etc.), let’s assume it to be pretty good soil. The “agricultural assessment value” of 140 acres of Class B organic soil (“muck”) would be about $213,000; the “equalization rate” in Briarcliff Manor hovers around 1.40, so the land as such would be assessed at just under $300,000. To which would be added the value of the various buildings and other improvements. The main question, then, would be the value of a 75,000 square foot clubhouse that could be repurposed as a hotel/restaurant/convention center. Obviously that would sell for a lot more than $1,100,000! But assessments are typically less than expected sale prices. Anyway, that’s just for fun, because a golf course doesn’t qualify as agricultural – they aren’t selling produce.


  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The GOP and conservadems are taking a meat cleaver to BBB legislation, but some things are getting through and will improve many lives. The Dems just need to say and mean that this is round 1, the first mile of a BBB marathon.

    Take improving tax compliance, for example. I don’t much care if a million low-income taxpayers cheat on their taxes. It has no effect on policy and little effect on compliance. The USG isn’t out much revenue. It has a slight impact on inequality and improves the economy, although there are better and more dramatic ways to do both things.

    I care a lot when a thousand multi-millionaires and billionaires cheat on their taxes – and abuse loopholes scattered throughout the tax code like gaps in a picket fence. It costs the treasury hundreds of billions. The behavior dramatically effects the culture of compliance, respect for the rule of law, and social, economic, political, and legal inequality.

    The difference should determine the focus of tax, revenue, and enforcement conduct. It’s usually the opposite. If the Treasury, for example, wants banks to report the annual flow of funds that pass through an account, then $10,000/year is an absurd threshhold. That captures nearly everyone, populates databases, and subsidizes intrusive data harvesting. As for finding bad behavior, it makes it harder, like finding one grain of sand on Waikiki beach.

    Treasury should set the limit much higher: $250,000/year, for example. That ignores the bulk of accounts, but captures the top 1%. The data would be more manageable, and a greater percentage of accounts would have material, suspect activity. It would be less like finding a grain of sand and more like finding the guy flying first class who’s not wearing deodorant.

    • P J Evans says:

      I think the current base for reporting fund transfers is $10k per transaction. That gets some people, but not many, because the criminals know about it. If there are a lot of transactions that are $5k, I’d wonder what was going on. But $10k per year is insanely low. It’s less than a year’s rent, for most people, and many places now collect it directly from your bank account or on your credit card.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Reporting transactions of $10,000 or more is the current limit, but lower amounts are sometimes reported, as is 30-day totals over $10k to the same payee. Treasury wants to lower the transaction limit to $3000 or less.

      What’s being discussed now, though, is a requirement that banks report any account in which $10,000 or more per year is paid in or out. Notionally, this is to avoid identifying any single transaction, by focusing on aggregate amounts moved.

      As you say, it’s an insanely low limit. It would scoop up everything: the accounts of nearly every working person and most retirees. There would be so much chafe, and so few grains of wheat, the limit seems designed to discredit the idea of such reporting.

      OTOH, it might be designed to do what it looks like: scoop up everything. To what end is debatable. But finding tax cheats and money launderers – who get round today’s $10,000/transaction limit – is not one of them.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Spain’s General Francisco Franco is still dead – to paraphrase an early SNL theme – and Louis DeJoy is still Postmaster General. But that makes DeJoy an active menace. His latest refusal to do his job – and to force people to use private sector alternatives – is to stop mail delivery to Australia and New Zealand. Just in time for Christmas and COP26.

    DeJoy’s public excuses include Covid and, “the unavailability of transport.” Ironic, given that DeJoy claims to have been hired – despite his utter lack of USPS experience – because he’s an expert on logistics. The stoppages date from early October, but I’ve not seen this reported in US media, barring last night’s report on RMS.


    • P J Evans says:

      he’s also not allowing mail to travel on regular airliners as cargo.
      My sis has had stuff show up *weeks* later than it should have done.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Airmail contracts are why the US originally developed a commercial airline industry. It played an important part in the expansion of railroads. But DeJoy is bent on destroying the preeminent American public service because it is a public, not private, service. It has nothing to do with profitability or efficiency.

        • P J Evans says:

          He and a bunch of his buddies on the board are invested in private delivery services. They see *profits* in their destruction of USPS.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The October 1st USPS slowdown of domestic mail operations apparently included stopping mail deliveries to 21 countries, in addition to Australia and New Zealand. As inexplicable as why DeJoy is still PMG.

      The defacto reason for the stoppages seems to be that deliveries are unprofitable – which is not a USPS objective, or an obligation. But it’s a prelude to what DeJoy would do domestically: stop deliveries to unprofitable destinations, regardless of legal obligations. What DeJoy intends to do to vote-by-mail envelopes the next election should surprise people less than why he would still be PMG.

  17. mass interest says:

    I do not understand why President Biden has not made DeJoy’s removal a priority.

    DeJoy’s gutting of the USPS services (oh, and those shenanigans last year with hardware important to voting) are impacting a significant percentage of the US population in ways that threaten necessary services for so many.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    How do you hold power – “govern” no longer applies to the GOP – as an unpopular permanent minority with no policy beyond “follow the leader”? Play the long game: take over local government, fuck it up, make it fail. Move up the chain. Wash, rinse, repeat. Along the way, increasingly extreme, paranoid fantasies become the norm.

    Karl Rove perfected that game in Alabama. He showed the GOP how to obtain control over state laws and courts, by devoting hitherto unknown levels of support for podunk local elected judges. He flooded the zone, overwhelmed the process, and his acolytes won. They remained loyal (lest he devote those resources to a competitor). He took the process to the next level and the next, all the way to the state supreme court. His moves helped cement GOP control of the legislature. In combination, he dramatically affected what laws were enacted, how they were enforced, and who could go to court.

    Along the way, Rove gutted support for state and national Democrats. He did it through the unexpected medium of “tort reform.” The changes were not neutral or objective. They were intended to bar the courthouse door to worthy plaintiffs or to cap their awards. Rove’s moves weren’t simply good for big business. He dramatically cut the incomes of plaintiffs’ lawyers, who tended to be and support Democrats. With fewer, smaller awards coming in, they had less money to give to Democrats.

    The GOP is now doing the same nationally. The FedSoc’s decades long campaign to promote virtually adolescent, ultra-conservative judges is well-known. The GOP has taken control over any national agency it can get its hands on, like the US Postal Service. Now, it’s working on local school boards and county election offices. Wash, rinse, repeat.


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