POLITICAL NEWS

Trump's kingmaker status faces test in Ohio special election

Published on August 2, 2021 12:37 AM

by JILL COLVIN, THOMAS BEAUMONT and JULIE CARR SMYTH

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GROVE CITY, Ohio (AP) — As soon as it became clear last week that a Texas congressional candidate backed by Donald Trump would be defeated in a special election, the former president's allies quickly shifted their attention to Ohio to ward off another embarrassing loss.

Make America Great Again, a super PAC chaired by Trump's former campaign manager, quietly purchased $300,000 in Ohio television advertising. The buy was intended to provide a late-stage boost to another Trump-backed candidate facing a crowded field of Republicans in a special election on Tuesday.

The midsummer race for Ohio's traditionally Republican 15th Congressional District wouldn't typically get much national attention. But it's suddenly becoming a high-stakes test of Trump's endorsement power, which he has wielded as a cudgel to silence opposition in the GOP. Low-turnout special elections aren't perfect measures of Trump's strength and he remains a powerhouse in GOP politics, revealing over the weekend that his political action committees are sitting on a massive $100 million pile of cash. But a second loss in two weeks could chip away at Trump's self-proclaimed kingmaker status heading into next year's midterm elections.

"If it happens a couple times, candidates and political professionals — they're not stupid — they're going to say you can win this race even if you're not endorsed by Trump," said Ohio Republican consultant Ryan Stubenrauch.

In other cases, Trump's decision to throw his weight behind candidates with baggage, including several running against GOP incumbents who crossed him by voting in favor of his second impeachment, has put him at odds with other party leaders. Some Republicans fear his moves could complicate efforts to win back majorities in the House and Senate next year.

In Ohio, Trump has endorsed Mike Carey, a coal lobbyist who is among 10 Republicans jockeying to replace former GOP Rep. Steve Stivers, who retired from Congress earlier this year. He faces a formidable lineup, including three current state lawmakers: state Sens. Bob Peterson and Stephanie Kunze and state Rep. Jeff LaRe. Former state Rep. Ron Hood is also a contender.

LaRe is backed by Stivers, who held the seat for a decade. Hood, meanwhile, has generous support from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's political action committee, along with religious conservative Ruth Edmonds, a minister and former Columbus NAACP president.

In an interview, Carey described the pitch he made to Trump when the two met for what he thought would be a photo-op earlier this year. "I said, "Listen, Mr. President, you've been somebody that supported a lot of political candidates over the course of your lifetime, and many of them let you down.' I said, "I'm kind of in the same boat — I mean, on a much smaller scale,'" Carey recalled. "After about an hour and 20 minutes, he said, "I'm all in. I'm going to endorse you and do whatever it takes to get you over the finish line.'"

Trump, who headlined a rally with Carey in June, reupped his endorsement last week, decrying candidates who have used his likeness or cited him in ads to try to woo voters. "I don't know them, and don't even know who they are...


Background

Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago After the Trump Organization's financial losses in the early 1990s, it refocused its business on branding and licensing the Trump name for projects owned and operated by other people and companies. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, it expanded this branding and management business to hotel towers located around the world, including Chicago; Las Vegas; Washington, D.C.; Panama City; Toronto; and Vancouver. There were also Trump-branded buildings in Dubai, Honolulu, Istanbul, Manila, Mumbai, and Indonesia.

The Trump name has also been licensed for various consumer products and services, including foodstuffs, apparel, adult learning courses, and home furnishings. According to an analysis by The Washington Post, there are more than fifty licensing or management deals involving Trump's name, which have generated at least $59 million in yearly revenue for his companies. By 2018 only two consumer goods companies continued to license his name.

Legal affairs and bankruptcies Main articles: Legal affairs of Donald Trump and List of lawsuits involving Donald Trump Fixer Roy Cohn served as Trump's lawyer and mentor for 13 years in the 1970s and 1980s. According to Trump, they were so close that Cohn sometimes waived fees due to their friendship. In 1973, Cohn helped Trump counter-sue the United States government for $100 million over its charges that Trump's properties had racial discriminatory practices; in 1975 an agreement was struck for Trump's properties to change their practices. It was Cohn who introduced political consultant Roger Stone to Trump, who enlisted Stone's services to deal with the federal government.

As of April 2018, Trump and his businesses had been involved in more than 4,000 state and federal legal actions, according to a running tally by USA Today.

While Trump has not filed for personal bankruptcy, his over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City and New York filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection six times between 1991 and 2009. They continued to operate while the banks restructured debt and reduced Trump's shares in the properties.

During the 1980s, more than 70 banks had lent Trump $4 billion, but in the aftermath of his corporate bankruptcies of the early 1990s, most major banks declined to lend to him, with only Deutsche Bank still willing to lend money.

In April 2019, the House Oversight Committee issued subpoenas seeking financial details from Trump's banks, Deutsche Bank and Capital One, and his accounting firm, Mazars USA. In response, Trump sued the banks, Mazars, and committee chairman Elijah Cummings to prevent the disclosures. In May, DC District Court judge Amit Mehta ruled that Mazars must comply with the subpoena, and judge Edgardo Ramos of the Southern District Court of New York ruled that the banks must also comply. Trump's attorneys appealed the rulings, arguing that Congress was attempting to usurp the 'exercise of law-enforcement authority that the Constitution reserves to the executive branch'.

Side ventures In September 1983, Trump purchased the New Jersey Generals, a team in the United States Football League. After the 1985 season, the league folded, largely due to Trump's strategy of moving games to a fall schedule and trying to force a merger with the NFL by bringing an antitrust suit against the organization.

Trump's businesses have hosted several boxing matches at the Atlantic City Convention Hall adjacent to and promoted as taking place at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. In 1989 and 1990, Trump lent his name to the Tour de Trump cycling stage race, which was an attempt to create an American equivalent of European races such as the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia.

In the late 1980s, Trump mimicked the actions of Wall Street's so-called corporate raiders, whose tactics had attracted wide public attention. Trump began to purchase significant blocks of shares in various public companies, leading some observers to think he was engaged in the practice called greenmail, or feigning the intent to acquire the companies and then pressuring management to repurchase the buyer's stake at a premium. The New York Times found that Trump initially made millions of dollars in such stock transactions, but later 'lost most, if not all, of those gains after investors stopped taking his takeover talk seriousl'y.

In 1988, Trump purchased the defunct Eastern Air Lines shuttle, with 21 planes and landing rights in New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C. He financed the purchase with $380 million from 22 banks, rebranded the operation the Trump Shuttle, and operated it until 1992. Trump failed to earn a profit with the airline and sold it to USAir.

Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame In 1992, Trump, his siblings Maryanne, Elizabeth, and Robert, and cousin John W. Walter, each with a 20 percent share, formed All County Building Supply & Maintenance Corp. The company had no offices and is alleged to have been a shell company for paying the vendors providing services and supplies for Trump's rental units, and then billing those services and supplies to Trump Management with markups of 20–50 percent and more. The proceeds generated by the markups were shared by the owners. The increased costs were used as justification to get state approval for increasing the rents of Trump's rent-stabilized units.

From 1996 to 2015, Trump owned all or part of the Miss Universe pageants, including Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. Due to disagreements with CBS about scheduling, he took both pageants to NBC in 2002. In 2007, Trump received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work as producer of Miss Universe. After NBC and Univision dropped the pageants from their broadcasting lineups in June 2015, Trump bought NBC's share of the Miss Universe Organization and sold the entire company to the William Morris talent agency.

Trump University Main article: Trump University In 2004, Trump co-founded Trump University, a company that sold real estate training courses priced from $1,500 to $35,000. After New York State authorities notified the company that its use of the word 'universit'y violated state law, its name was changed to Trump Entrepreneur Initiative in 2010.

In 2013, the State of New York filed a $40 million civil suit against Trump University; the suit alleged that the company made false statements and defrauded consumers. In addition, two class actions were filed in federal court against Trump and his companies. Internal documents revealed that employees were instructed to use a hard-sell approach, and former employees testified that Trump University had defrauded or lied to its students. Shortly after he won the presidency, Trump agreed to pay a total of $25 million to settle the three cases.

Foundation Main article: Donald J. Trump Foundation The Donald J. Trump Foundation was a private foundation established in 1988. In the foundation's final years its funds mostly came from donors other than Trump, who did not donate any personal funds to the charity from 2009 until 2014. The foundation gave to health care and sports-related charities, as well as conservative groups.

In 2016, The Washington Post reported that the charity had committed several potential legal and ethical violations, including alleged self-dealing and possible tax evasion. Also in 2016, the New York State attorney general's office said the foundation appeared to be in violation of New York laws regarding charities and ordered it to immediately cease its fundraising activities in New York. Trump's team announced in December 2016 that the foundation would be dissolved.

In June 2018 the New York attorney general's office filed a civil suit against the foundation, Trump, and his adult children, seeking $2.8 million in restitution and additional penalties. In December 2018, the foundation ceased operation and disbursed all its assets to other charities. In November 2019, a New York state judge ordered Trump to pay $2 million to a group of charities for misusing the foundation's funds, in part to finance his presidential campaign.

Conflicts of interest

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then the prime minister of Turkey, attended the opening of Trump Towers Istanbul AVM in 2012. Before being inaugurated as president, Trump moved his businesses into a revocable trust run by his eldest sons and a business associate. According to ethics experts, this measure does not help avoid conflicts of interest, because Trump continues to profit from his businesses. Because Trump would have knowledge of how his administration's policies affect his businesses, ethics experts recommend selling the businesses. Though Trump said he would eschew 'new foreign deals', the Trump Organization has since pursued expansions of its operations in Dubai, Scotland, and the Dominican Republic.

Pending lawsuits allege that Trump is violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs say that Trump's business interests could allow foreign governments to influence him. Trump is the first president to be sued over the Emoluments Clause. NBC News reported in 2019 that 'representatives of at least 22 foreign governments – including some facing charges of corruption or human rights abuses such as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Turkey and the Philippines – seem to have spent funds at Trump properties while he has been president'. As president, Trump mocked the Emoluments Clause as 'phon'y.

Media career Main article: Media career of Donald Trump Books Main article: Bibliography of Donald Trump Trump has written up to 19 books on business, financial, or political topics, though he has employed ghostwriters to actually write them. Trump's first book, The Art of the Deal , was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 48 weeks. While Trump was credited as co-author, the entire book was ghostwritten by Tony Schwartz. According to The New Yorker, 'The book expanded Trump's renown far beyond New York City, promoting an image of himself as a successful dealmaker and tycoon.' Trump has called the book his second favorite after the Bible.

WWF/WWE Trump has had a sporadic relationship with the professional wrestling promotion WWE since the late 1980s. He was inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.

The Apprentice Main article: The Apprentice In 2003, Trump became the co-producer and host of The Apprentice, a reality show in which Trump played the role of a powerful chief executive and contestants competed for a year of employment at the Trump Organization. Trump winnowed out contestants with his famous catchphrase 'You're fired'. He later co-hosted The Celebrity Apprentice, in which celebrities competed to win money for charities.