In the debates and on the campaign trail, business mogul Donald Trump has made a lot of his New York roots and the causes and aftermath of 9/11. Now a few past reports have resurfaced that call into question Trump’s financial gains from the Twin Towers tragedy.
Drawing from reports by the New York Times and the New York Daily News, The Weekly Standard‘s Michael Warren recently highlighted a curious infusion of funds Donald Trump’s “40 Wall Street LLC” received from a federal grant for small businesses impacted by the 9/11 Twin Towers attack. The “curious” part is that by the definition spelled out in the grant, Trump’s LLC was no “small business” and thus should not have taken money from the grant.
Warren explains that not long after 9/11, Trump’s LLC received $150,000 from the World Trade Center Business Recovery Grant program, a program designed to help “small businesses” impacted by the devastating attack. Though Trump said publicly that none of his businesses were directly damaged in 9/11, his LLC wound up landing the sizeable grant.
The problem is that his business did not meet the definition of a small business. The New York Daily News explained back in 2006:
The grant application describes the corporation through which Trump owns that building as having 28 employees and $26.8 million in annual revenues. That passed the ESDC’s small business test of less than 500 employees. But the revenue amount would put the single Trump property over the federal definition of a small business – which is $6 million annually for lessors of nonresidential buildings. A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a call and e-mail message seeking comment.
Warren notes that as early as 2003, reports began to surface that the 9/11 recovery grant program, which disbursed hundreds of millions of dollars, “admitted to overpaying some firms and took back $1.2 million.” In fact, a federal audit at the time estimated that at least $5 million had been overpaid.
Trump said in 2005 that the “impressive, landmark property” of 40 Wall Street was worth $400 million, and his revenues appear to have been booming, yet, as Warren writes, “through a loophole in the rules, Trump was able to squeeze $150,000 of money from taxpayers for his valuable landmark property.”
As was the case in the 2006 report, a Trump spokesman has so far declined comment on Warren’s story.