Former President Donald Trump and his family business have a long history of rigid entrepreneurs, but there’s one bill they almost certainly wish they had paid.
Prior to the 2017 presidential inauguration, the Trump Organization reserved a block of rooms at the Loews Madison Hotel. When at least 13 people failed to show up, the Trump Organization refused to foot the bill, which it has done on several occasions in the past. The company then dodged a credit collection agency and eventually got away with pushing the $49,358 bill to the nonprofit presidential inaugural committee, the PIC.
That dodged payment is now at the heart of the District of Columbia’s attorney general’s latest effort to put the Trump Organization back in the crosshairs in an ongoing investigation into how Trump’s children used the presidential nominating committee to host their own lavish parties.
“It was their friends. He should never have been sent to the PIC. This is a misuse of funding. The Trump organization being involved in any way and forcing the PIC to pay any balance anywhere on his behalf? It just doesn’t seem legitimate,” said Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who coordinated the inaugural events and is now the government’s primary witness in the case.
Winston Wolkoff is no longer a friend of the Trumps. Although she was close to the family for more than a decade and eventually became First Lady Melania Trump’s “trusted adviser”, there was a fallout after Winston Wolkoff felt the White House of Trump had made her the scapegoat for the wasteful spending of the inauguration. The New York Times identified a company associated with him, WIS Media Partners, as the beneficiary of a whopping $26 million, and Winston Wolkoff then overcame Justice Department resistance to the publication of his telltale book titled Melanie and me.
DC Attorney General Karl Racine continues to investigate how the nominating committee allegedly wrongfully spent more than $1 million and was used to essentially enrich Trump’s own business when he entered office. the White House. And the attorney general’s office is trying to recover from a loss in court late last year.
In November, DC Superior Court Judge José M. López appeared to condemn the local attorney general’s investigation when he cleared the Trump Organization from the lawsuit. His reasoning, which surprised those following the case, was that the family business was not directly involved, even though Don Jr., Ivanka and other staff at the company’s New York office s did a lot of the paperwork. He therefore withdrew the Trump Organization from the trial.
The judge’s Nov. 8 order was based on the company’s claims that Texas-based financier Gentry Beach had no authority to list the Trump Organization when he pulled out an American Express credit card and made the reservation. important and costly. However, Beach was no stranger to the Trump Organization. He was Donald Trump Jr.’s college pal and was handpicked to serve on the nonprofit’s finance committee. He was also denounced by reporters even before the inauguration for being part of a nonprofit — run by Eric Trump, Don Jr. and another wealthy Texan — that appeared to be auctioning off access to Trumps. .
Since then, Racine’s office has filed documents in court in an attempt to reverse that, pointing to numerous receipts and memos that show even the debt collector wouldn’t be fooled into letting the Trump Organization off the hook. this one.
In typical aggressive collection agency fashion, Campbell Hightower & Adams in Arizona began bombarding the firm with phone calls and emails in June 2017, picking up where the Loews Madison Hotel left off. stopped.
A collector, identified only as “Sherie,” took notes as she repeatedly communicated with Don Jr.’s executive assistant, Kara Hanley.
“Unfortunately, this was not a deal made by anyone at the Trump Organization. Sincerely, Kara,” Hanley wrote on June 8.
“A contract was signed and then 13 people did not show up for the rooms you had reserved [sic] so according to the terms of the contract, these rooms still have to be paid for. What am I missing?” Sherie replied.
A few weeks later, Sherie informed the Trump Organization that she had just discovered that another executive assistant to Don Jr., Lindsey Santoro, had originally requested the rooms and added Beach as the primary contact for the deal. This information seemed to further reinforce that the company was indeed involved.
And when the hotel contacted the collection agency in July to request that Bill suddenly change the listed debtor to “58th Presidential Nominations Committee” – with an odd special note saying “He just can’t tell ‘the Trump organization'” – Sherie grew suspicious.
“I’m hesitant because they all seem to be pointing fingers and making excuses why they won’t pay it and it seems like another ploy so the name of the Trump organization isn’t in there,” Sherie replied on July 10.
Records show the bill was ultimately footed by the Presidential Inaugural Committee under Rick Gates, a Trump-allied political operative who served on the committee — and eventually served time in prison for committing unrelated crimes. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
The District of Columbia AG hopes this evidence proves the Trump Organization should remain part of the lawsuit, which is seeking to seize money it deems was misused and divert it to another organization. non-profit. Otherwise, the civil investigation would only continue against the PIC (which is no longer active) and the Trump International Hotel Washington (which is sold anyway).
In court filings, an attorney for the Trump Organization and the Trump Hotel lambasted the AG’s last-ditch effort as mere “reworked arguments” that seek “multiple bites out of multiple apples.” On December 14, attorney Rebecca Woods reiterated that Don Jr.’s pal Beach did not have explicit authority to close the case. She also wrote that investigators should not be allowed to request sworn testimony from him or Santoro, the executive assistant.
When approached by The Daily Beast, the AG’s office highlighted the arguments he had made in court. The Trump Organization’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment. The collection agency did not return calls Friday.
Notably, none of these documents described another layer of Trump Organization involvement: how the company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, surprisingly assumed responsibility for auditing the PIC’s finances for purpose. non-profit. Last summer, DC investigators wanted to question him under oath, but he was later charged with criminal tax evasion in New York.
The request from the local attorney general now belongs to the judge, but a different request this time. On New Year’s Eve, the case was reassigned to DC Superior Court Judge Yvonne Williams, a former NAACP attorney appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama.