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EXPOSED: 10 Scandals That Could Destroy Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign
Nobody thought he would get this far. Liberals and conservatives alike laughed at the very thought of Donald Trump lasting more than even a few weeks during the election season. Yet far fewer people are laughing now. Trump, the all-but-certain Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States, has exceeded everyone’s expectations on the campaign trail. And it’s almost inevitable—save some political miracle or disaster (depending which side you’re on) that it will be Trump vs. Hillary in November.
It’s true that Hillary brings to her candidacy a fair share of controversial baggage—much of which comes from her time as Secretary of State during the Obama administration. And there are legitimate questions that can be raised regarding Hillary’s past decisions and actions.
Yet it is practically undeniable, regardless of your political affiliations, that Trump brings more controversy to the table. In fact the sheer depth and breadth of Trump’s controversial past is almost incalculable—with scandals ranging from allegations of mafia ties, to multiple bankruptcies, to flagrant mistreatment of women, and beyond.
Here’s a quick peek at the tip of the iceberg that is Donald Trump’s controversial past.
1. The Beauty Pageant Scandals
Where and when: Various, 1992-present
The dirt: The year was 1992, and Trump had established himself as somewhat of an up and coming mogul in the esoteric world of American beauty pageants—specifically the American Dream pageant. Always a fan of exceptionally beautiful women (Trump tends to deal only with women he considers to be “10s” in his book), Trump met with George Houraney and Jill Harth, who co-ran the American Dream pageant, in the hopes of getting more involved. Things did not go well. Ms. Harth was shocked when Trump allegedly started making inappropriate remarks and flirting with her, in an apparent attempt to gain favor.
Throughout the course of the night, Trump apparently made passes at several of the models—even inviting himself into bed with one in her hotel room. These brash actions, along with the fact that Trump was overheard calling women “bimbos” and “gold diggers,” led not only to the death of any flourishing business relationship between Trump, Houraney, and Harth, but also a lawsuit levied against Trump by Harth, which referenced his sexual misbehavior that night.
The upshot: The dust soon settled, and the disgruntled couple settled the lawsuit with Trump for an undisclosed sum. Unsurprisingly, Trump denied all the charges.
Not one to be discouraged, however, Trump later bought the Miss Universe pageant, which embodies both Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, saying to Vanity Fair that when he bought Miss Universe, the “bathing suits got smaller and the heels got higher and the ratings went up.” The Donald’s big mouth eventually caught up with him, however, and after his incendiary remarks about Mexicans on the campaign trail, NBC (who ultimately operated Miss Universe) severed their ties to Mr. Trump.
2. Racial Housing Discrimination
Where and when: New York City, 1973-1975
The dirt: Ever since the Civil Rights legislation that was passed in the 1950s and 60s, it has been blatantly illegal to deny potential housing tenants based on their race. This is what’s called housing discrimination. And yet it was done throughout the 60s and 70s with little or no intervention from federal or state governments. The New York Times reported in 1973 that Trump and his father had in fact discriminated against minorities in thirty-nine different sites in New York, saying that “The government contended that Trump Management had refused to rent or negotiate rentals because of race and color,” and that the Trumps had “required different rental terms and conditions because of race.”
The upshot: The Trumps denied the allegations and hired attorney Roy Cohn before suing the Justice Department for $100 million. The Trumps eventually settled and promised to be a bit more careful when it came to drawing up housing contracts in the future.
3. Mafia Ties
Where and when: New York and Atlantic City, 1970s-?
The dirt: Maybe it’s his general demeanor, or that fact that he’s constantly referring to “his people” and “those people”, but there’s just something about Trump that seems to exude organized crime. And the stereotypes are backed up by facts: Trump has been linked to the mafia several times throughout his career.
In the 1980s in New York City, the Mafia had a large and commanding presence in the construction and concrete businesses—meaning that anyone who wanted to build had to go through the mafia bosses who controlled the supplies in question. And Donald Trump wanted to build a lot.
Of course Donald claimed that he had no idea that the men he was dealing with on a regular basis were involved in illicit activities, however the investigative journalist Wayne Barrett disagreed. Barrett noted that Trump paid twice the market rate to a mafia boss in order to attain the land for Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, and another report claimed that Trump had close ties to Robert LiButti, who was a known associate of John Gotti.
The upshot: Although Trump has been questioned and scrutinized about his mob connections on numerous occasions, he’s never been convicted of any wrongdoing. (However Trump Plaza was eventually fined $200,000 for intentionally keeping black employees away from LiButti’s table, apparently at LiButti’s request.)
4. Trump University
Where and when: 2005-2010, online
The dirt: Few things have come to haunt The Donald on the campaign trail more than his ties to Trump University—a sham school offering people useless degrees and charging them an exorbitant amount of money for learning useless lessons from useless “professors”.
Students spent up to $30,000 in hopes of learning Trump’s method of getting rich, with a promise that they would “learn from Donald Trump’s handpicked instructors,” and that participants would have access to Trump’s real estate “secrets.” It turns out that not only did Trump have practically nothing to do with the curriculum or the instructors; he also turned a blind eye as the instructors practically forced students to write positive teacher evaluations at the end of each semester. And because it was never technically a university, it was forced to change its name to the “Trump Entrepreneur Initiative” in order to avoid fines from the State of New York.
The upshot: Although the school shut down in 2010, ex-student rage continues to mount, and many have sued both Trump and the school in the hopes of reclaiming at least some of their cash.
Trump has also been accused of trying to both bribe and intimidate the disgruntled students by countersuing them, and offering them off-the-table cash to drop the lawsuits.
5. Tenant Intimidation
Where and when: New York City, 1982-1986
The dirt: As Trump has claimed on multiple occasions: he plays to win. And this means he’s willing to go to extraordinary measures to get what he wants, even if those measures aren’t technically legal and/or moral.
Case in point: in 1981, Trump purchased a decrepit old building on Central Park with the intention of knocking it down and building luxury condos on the remaining prime piece of Manhattan land. Of course there was just one problem. The existing tenants didn’t really want to get kicked out of the homes they had lived in for decades, so they fought back.
Trump did everything within his supposed power to get his way—including threatening to tear down the walls, turning of the heat and hot water, instructing his maintenance teams to not respond to tenant complaints, and even putting ads in local newspapers to entice the homeless population of Manhattan to occupy the empty rooms.
Fed up, the tenants eventually went to court, and Trump was told to end the shenanigans or face legal action. This didn’t have the desired effect, however, since Trump actually ended up suing the tenants $150 million for putting a wrench in the works and making things difficult for him.
The upshot: Eventually Trump and the tenants settled, and the building remains standing. Trump’s son even owns an apartment on the top floor.
6. The Four Bankruptcies
Where and when: 1991, 1992, 2004, 2009
The dirt: For all of his boasting and bragging, it’s worth remembering that Trump’s companies have actually gone bankrupt on four separate occasions. The first took place in the late 1980s, when Trump illicitly used junk bonds to build his new casino in Atlantic City. He predictably couldn’t keep up with interest payments and declared bankruptcy in 1991. The poor soul had to sell off his yacht, airline, and half of his ownership in the casino.
The next came a year later, when the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City lost more than $550 million. Although Trump kept his job as CEO, he had to give up his entire salary and ended up with $900 million in personal debt.
Then, in 2004, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts found itself in roughly $1.9 billion of debt—forcing the company to file for bankruptcy and forcing Trump to relinquish his stake in the company.
Finally, in 2009, Trump Entertainment Resorts went bankrupt once again, which led to Trump resigning from the board and eventually suing the company in an attempt to have his name removed from all signage.
The upshot: It’s somewhat understandable that with all of Trump’s talk of “winning” at everything he does, he would be a wee bit sensitive about the fact that his companies have had to declare bankruptcy not once, but four times. Therefore his go-to line is that he was just “playing the system,” and using the laws of the country to leverage debt just like every successful businessman has done before him. I think we can name a few successful businessmen who didn’t have to resort to such measures, however.
7. The Undocumented Polish Workers
Where and when: New York City, 1980
The dirt: Trump has based a large part of his campaign platform on being rabidly anti-illegal immigration. This has seemed to resonate well with voters who think that illegals (especially from Mexico) are hopping across the border and stealing their jobs. Well, Mr. Trump should try putting his money where his mouth is more often, since during the construction of Trump Tower, Trump’s firm hired two hundred undocumented Polish workers to tear down the preexisting structure.
Hiring illegals allowed for the work to be done much more quickly and for far less money—with wages paid to the illegal workers hovering around only $5 per hour. Some were reportedly not even paid at all. And when the workers complained that they were either getting paid too little or not receiving any compensation, they were threatened with deportation. Unsurprisingly, Trump denied that he knew anything about the illegals working at the site.
The upshot: Trump and his organization were found guilty of conspiring to avoid paying pension and welfare contributions to the workers, and although the decision was appealed, the tale has been brought up repeatedly during the campaign by Trump’s opponents in the hopes of labeling him as a hypocrite.
8. Alleged Marital Rape
Where and when: New York City, 1989
The dirt: The Donald likes to tout the outstanding relationship he has with women, although there are more than a few stories that dispute this claim, one of which being that when he was married to Ivana Trump, he apparently became angry with her one night forced her to have sex with him. Ivana later said that she “felt violated” and that Trump and unquestionably raped her. Ivana later walked back her statement, saying that she did not mean for her words to be taken in a “criminal sense,” and that she had just felt “violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited towards me, was absent.”
The upshot: The issue may have very well faded into obscurity, however soon after the incident, once of Trump’s assistants defensively told the press that the allegations were absurd, because a man cannot legally rape his wife (which is beyond obviously incorrect). Things haven’t seemed to have gotten any better for Trump when it comes to wooing the ladies, with Donald spouting off insult after insult against women on the campaign trail.
9. Breaking Casino Rules
Where and when: New York and New Jersey, various locations
The dirt: Apparently when it comes to casinos in New Jersey, if you waltz in and purchase $3.5 million worth of chips just to help the casino stay afloat, with no intent to actually gamble, it constitutes an illegal loan. And this is exactly what Donald’s father, Fred Trump, did in 1990 in an attempt to help his son’s failing Taj Mahal casino stay afloat. Trump was fined $30,000 for accepting the “loan”, which didn’t even ultimately prevent the casino from becoming bankrupt the following year.
And in 2000, Trump was fined $250,000 for breaking New York state law while attempting to prevent the construction of a Native American casino from opening close by his Atlantic City digs.
Let’s also not forget the time Trump was fined $200,000 by the State of New Jersey for keeping black employees away from Robert LiButti’s gambling table.
The upshot: Although Trump never admitted to any wrongdoing during these episodes, it was enough to push him out of the casino business for good.
10. Antitrust Violations
Where and when: New Jersey, 1986
The dirt: Antitrust laws exist in the United States for a reason: so that competition can thrive and consumers aren’t stuck with inflated prices that ultimately drag the entire economy down. And it’s for this reason that The Donald got in trouble when, in 1986, he decided he was going to expand his bustling casino empire in Atlantic City by buying large amounts of stock in two competing casino companies: Holiday and Bally.
Trump’s goal was to eventually gain control of the two competing casinos and merge them into his own, but Bally realized what was happening and quickly sued Trump, arguing that “Trump hopes to wrest control of Bally from its public shareholders without paying them the control premium they otherwise could command had they been adequately informed of Trump’s intentions.”
The upshot: The impending lawsuit was enough to scare Trump off, but the Federal Trade Commission ended up fining him $750,000 for failing to report the large stock purchases.