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Daily Archives: August 17th, 2016


This article from The New York Times shows what type of leadership could be expected from “He who shall remain Nameless”

 

The New York Times

By RUSS BUETTNER12 hrs ago

By the time Chris Christie became governor of New Jersey, the state’s auditors and lawyers had been battling for several years to collect long-overdue taxes owed by the casinos founded by his friend Donald J. Trump.
The total, with interest, had grown to almost $30 million. The state had doggedly pursued the matter through two of the casinos’ bankruptcy cases and even accused the company led by Mr. Trump of filing false reports with state casino regulators about the amount of taxes it had paid.
But the year after Governor Christie, a Republican, took office, the tone of the litigation shifted. The state entertained settlement offers. And in December 2011, after six years in court, the state agreed to accept just $5 million, roughly 17 cents on the dollar of what auditors said the casinos owed.

Tax authorities sometimes settle for lesser amounts to avoid the costs and risks of further litigation, legal experts said, but the steep discount granted to the Trump casinos and the relationship between the two men raise inevitable questions about special treatment.
“You can’t tell whether there’s something problematic, but it’s pretty striking that this one was written down so much,” said David Skeel, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School who specializes in bankruptcy law and reviewed the case at the request of The New York Times.
The refusal by Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, to release his personal income tax returns has become a growing issue in the campaign. He has also boasted of his success in lowering his tax burden as a businessman, declaring last year in an interview on Fox News that only “a stupid person, a really stupid person, is paying a lot of taxes.”
By that measure, the deal with New Jersey looks remarkably shrewd. The casinos did far better, for example, than those that benefited from a program Mr. Christie introduced in 2014 in which the state agreed to consider reducing penalties for delinquent taxpayers but only if they caught up on all overdue taxes and interest.
Public records do not create a clear picture of how the agreement was reached. A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump said she would be in touch regarding questions sent to her. But she did not reply further or respond to subsequent messages.
Brian Murray, a spokesman for Mr. Christie, said the governor had not been aware of the tax dispute and, therefore, could not comment on the terms of the settlement.
Mr. Trump has given Mr. Christie, a longtime friend, the task of heading his transition committee. The Times discovered the agreement during a review of the thousands of documents filed in the bankruptcies of Mr. Trump’s casinos. The taxes went unpaid from 2002 through 2006, during which time Mr. Trump was leading the company as chairman and, until 2005, as its chief executive. He reaped millions of dollars in fees and bonuses from the company, even as it underperformed competitors, lost money every year and saw its stock collapse.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Christie met in 2002, when Mr. Christie was the United States attorney for New Jersey. Mr. Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry, then a federal judge in the state, had mentioned to Mr. Christie that her famous brother would like to meet him. They struck up a friendship. Mr. Christie was invited to Mr. Trump’s third wedding in 2005, and Mr. Trump was a prominent guest at Mr. Christie’s inauguration in 2010. They have double dated with their wives.
Their bond has occasionally included financial largess from Mr. Trump. His foundation made large donations to the Drumthwacket Foundation, which funds maintenance and improvements to New Jersey’s historic governor’s residence, after Mr. Christie became its honorary chairman. Mr. Trump also made large contributions to the Republican Governors Association when Mr. Christie was its chairman.
After attacking Mr. Christie during the recent Republican primary contest, Mr. Trump seriously considered choosing him as his running mate before picking Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana. But Mr. Christie has remained a vocal supporter, was given a prominent speaking role at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and Mr. Trump has given his friend the task of heading his transition committee.
“Donald and I, along with Melania and Pat, have been friends for over a decade,” Mr. Christie said in his convention speech about Mr. Trump. “He has been a good and loyal friend.”
The state corporate tax at the center of the dispute went into effect in 2002. It was called the alternative minimum assessment and was created, in part, to prevent businesses from avoiding taxes through accounting maneuvers.
Though he was pushed out of running the company he founded, Mr. Trump said he would stay “very involved” with the casino company that would continue to bear his name. An executive with the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey testified at a state hearing in 2003 that Atlantic City casinos saw their state tax liability quadruple, primarily because of the new alternative minimum tax, during its first year. But the Trump casinos decided the tax did not apply to them, according to court filings.
After the Trump casinos filed for bankruptcy protection in 2004 for the third time, state officials noticed the company had not been filling out the required schedule for the minimum tax assessment. The Trump casinos had reported losing money and paid a little more than $600,000 in state income taxes in 2002, and only $1,500 in 2003. State auditors determined the Trump casinos should have paid $8.8 million in alternative minimum taxes for those two years, according to court records.
The company filed an administrative protest with the state, but it was rejected. The company’s lawyers continued to fight the state’s claim in bankruptcy court, arguing that the tax was unconstitutional and that it should not apply to the Trump casinos because they were organized as partnerships.
State lawyers also found other irregularities in the company’s tax filings.
In February 2007, Heather Lynn Anderson, a deputy attorney general who specializes in tax cases, filed papers in court saying auditors had discovered discrepancies that raised “numerous additional questions regarding the accuracy” of the Trump casinos’ tax returns. The company had reported lower revenue figures on its tax returns, for example, than on filings with the State Casino Control Commission. Ms. Anderson also wrote that Mr. Trump’s flagship casino, the Taj Mahal, had reported to the casino commission that it paid $2.2 million in alternative minimum assessment tax in 2003, which was not true. The company had paid only $500 in income taxes.
The state’s claim still had not been resolved by early 2009, when the Trump casinos filed for bankruptcy protection yet again. By then, the state said the total due, with interest, had risen to $29.4 million.
Mr. Christie’s name actually appeared in the bankruptcy cases during those years, when he was the United States attorney for New Jersey, and more than a dozen briefs were filed under his name as representing the federal Internal Revenue Service in its own claims against the Trump casinos. But the case was handled by an I.R.S. lawyer. Mr. Murray, the governor’s spokesman, said Mr. Christie had no supervisory role in pursuing the agency’s claims.
After Mr. Christie became governor, his friendship with Mr. Trump occasionally made celebrity news. In March 2011, The New York Post’s gossip column, Page Six, reported that the two men and their wives double dated at Jean-Georges, a luxury restaurant in Mr. Trump’s tower at Columbus Circle in Manhattan.
By then, Mr. Trump had been pushed out of running the company he founded, after his efforts to hang on through bankruptcy were thwarted by investors. But he still had financial ties to the company.
When he testified in support of the plan to reorganize the company without his direct leadership, Mr. Trump said he would stay “very involved” with the casino company that would continue to bear his name. He remained a large shareholder, controlling 10 percent of the company’s stock. And in October 2011, the company announced it had entered a joint venture with Mr. Trump and his daughter Ivanka to pursue online gambling opportunities should it become legal.
“We think we have the hottest brand there is, the Trump brand, my personal brand,” Mr. Trump told The Associated Press. “We think it’s going to do phenomenally well.”
(The joint venture agreement expired before New Jersey approved online gambling in 2013.)
Around the same time, the tone of the tax litigation softened. Ms. Anderson notified the judge in the case that the two sides were in settlement discussions. On Dec. 5, 2011, New Jersey and the Trump casino company filed a settlement agreement with the court showing that the state would accept $5 million, paid in two installments, on a tab of about $30 million.
By the time of the settlement, the industry was suffering a long slide that had started in 2006. The Trump company had just sold one of its casinos, Trump Marina Hotel Casino, for $38 million.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office, Leland Moore, said the settlement was approved largely because of the risks of continuing to fight in bankruptcy court and the “concerns about the future ability of the casinos to pay their tax debts.”
The Trump casinos may not have been able to afford their long overdue taxes, but they did not turn suddenly spartan, either. They continued to rent a helicopter from Mr. Trump for $390,000 a year, until they filed for bankruptcy again in 2014.
Mr. Moore declined to release the titles of officials who approved the settlement, except to say it was agreed to by officials from both the attorney general’s office and the State Division of Taxation.
Mr. Christie was close to the attorney general at the time, Paula T. Dow, whom he had appointed and who worked for him as a prosecutor at the United States attorney’s office. A week after the settlement was signed, Mr. Christie announced that he was appointing Ms. Dow to the counsel’s office of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey until he could find her the judgeship that she desired.
“I think you all know that Paula Dow has been one of my most trusted advisers for the last 10 years,” Mr. Christie said at the time.
The Trump casinos did agree to pay more than $1 million in other taxes that the state sought in the bankruptcy cases.
Ms. Anderson, the deputy attorney general, had also prevailed over the Trump casinos in a separate case in which the company had sought a $2.7 million refund of sales taxes. She declined to discuss the cases. But her husband, Joseph Rival, has made his thoughts publicly known. He once referred to Mr. Trump as a “tax cheat” in a Twitter post. Another Twitter commenter pushed him to say which tax Mr. Trump had cheated. Mr. Rival, a conservative voter, wrote: “The State of New Jersey. He had to pay up millions, I know the lawyer that beat him.”
On another date, he posted, “My wife’s beaten him in tax court more than once.”
The settlement was one of the last disputes in that bankruptcy case, and it was finally closed in January 2012.
The following month, Page Six reported that the Christies and the Trumps were again double dating at Jean-Georges.

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The idea has been floated that extremists such as skin heads, and other radical groups have infiltrated law enforcement in parts of the Country. This may or may not be true but given the string of deaths at the hands of Law enforcement officers around the country it is a conclusion that could be easily reached. There could be much talk about this if the idea were reported in the mainstream media but fortunately it has not . It is presumed that most if not all Law enforcement departments around the country have a screening process to preclude the hiring of people with radical views towards non white citizens. It is possible that a few radicals could be working in law enforcement in that years ago before the screening processes changed it was normal for members of radical hate groups to routinely join law enforcement and “ply their trade”. These members were wide spread over the U.S. and not just the South. The recent spate of “so called” hate crimes by law enforcement has re invigorated that line of thought. Considering law enforcement as a system of society, it’s function is to serve and protect but that protection extends to the serving officers too. Many law enforcement agencies have had to make changes in their vetting processes due to issues within their ranks. It is possible that their methodology needs to change or something new put in place but most of us agree something needs to be done. As in any issue involving public safety, the entire community needs to be involved. It is incumbent on the citizens (in and out of law enforcement) to get past the issues of them against us and make common sense  guidelines that would benefit all.

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1

Democracy & Government
The Making of Donald Trump, As Told by a Journalistic Nemesis
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston says his new book is “basically everything Donald Trump wants to make sure you do not know.”
By Kathy Kiely | August 5, 2016
The Making of Donald Trump
Veteran reporter David Cay Johnston wasn’t satisfied with how the media has been covering Donald Trump. So he wrote a book. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston isn’t happy with the way the press has been handling Donald Trump. “The coverage has been extremely poor in my opinion,” Johnston, who at 67 clearly still enjoys making trouble, pronounced at no less a lions’ den than the National Press Club on Thursday night in Washington.
So Johnston, as he is wont to do when he sees something going wrong, decided to tackle the problem himself.
His just-released book,The Making of Donald Trump, is a 288-page compendium of “basically everything Donald Trump wants to make sure you do not know,” said Johnston, who has been following the real estate mogul for decades.
The main reason he has “been extremely critical of my colleagues,” in the media Johnston said, is they’ve been too buttoned-down and professional. “They’re covering him as though he is a serious person,” Johnston said of the Republican presidential nominee. Though Johnston believes there has been some good coverage of Trump, he faulted it for being too highbrow, “not written in tabloid style.”
“Donald is a master of manipulating the conventions of journalism,” explained the veteran reporter. He proceeded to shatter many of those conventions in a book talk that was frequently punctuated with the declaration “because Donald just makes it up.” Johnston also repeatedly dubbed Trump “a modern-day P.T. Barnum.” The book by the former <=”” York=””man book already has provided fodder for the tabloids.
It chronicles the rise of Trump’s fortunes, beginning with the Republican presidential nominee’s grandfather, a German immigrant who, as Johnston put it in distinctly un-Timesian style, ran a “whorehouse,” and continuing through Trump’s father, whom Johnston described as an industrious businessman with some unfortunate views.
We have never had a major party candidate for president with the kinds of relationships Donald Trump has.
— David Cay Johnston
In 1927, Fred Trump was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan meeting in Queens — something his son has tried furiously to deny, but, said Johnston: “I have the clips.” Later, as Johnston details in his book, the elder Trump, in trouble once before with the feds for allegedly bilking a federal housing program for returning GIs, was ordered by the federal authorities to stop discriminating against African-Americans who were trying to rent apartments he owned. The settlement came only after Donald Trump tried unsuccessfully to get the allegations of racial bias thrown out by the courts — a lawsuit in which he was represented by Roy Cohn, former longtime aide to Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), the disgraced Communist witch-hunt perpetrator.
Johnston sees Trump’s association with Cohn — who, he said, “taught Donald how to hurt people”— as part of a disturbing pattern. “We have never had a major party candidate for president with the kind of relationships Donald Trump has,” Johnston said. While some past presidents have had unsavory friends and business associations, Johnston continued, “They were not the mob. They were not drug traffickers.”
At the Press Club event, Johnston raised repeated questions about Trump’s ties to Felix Sater, a Russian-born stock fraudster and admitted fellow traveler with the mob. Sater is now a defendant in a tax fraud case; papers unsealed earlier this month name Trump and two of his children as “material witnesses.”
He invited his audience to contrast the treatment Trump gave a convicted drug dealer who ran a company that operated Trump’s helicopter fleet with what he did to his infant great-nephew, gravely ill with an ailment that caused seizures.
For his troubled helicopter provider, Joey Weichselbaum, the real estate mogul provided a luxury apartment, continued employment and a testimonial to the court after the Weichselbaum’s indictment for drug trafficking, Johnston recounts in his book. But Trump was much less accommodating to the grandson of his late older brother after the baby’s parents challenged the will of his father, Fred Trump (which cut them out), in court. Trump removed the ailing child from the family’s medical insurance policy. “I can’t help that,” Johnston quotes Trump telling a New York Daily News reporter who asked why he cut off the infant’s health care coverage (a court later restored it).
Now I go out of my way to make her life miserable.
— Donald Trump
Vindictiveness is a point of pride for Trump, Johnston said. “His personal motto is ‘get revenge,’” said the reporter, who devotes an entire chapter to Trump’s speechifying and writings on the subject. Describing how Trump fired a female employee who, citing ethical qualms, wouldn’t call a banker friend on his behalf, Johnston quotes Trump’s own account from his book, Think Big:
“She ended up losing her home. Her husband, who was only in it for the money, walked out on her and I was glad… I can’t stomach disloyalty…and now I go out of my way to make her life miserable.”
In another outside-the-box move for a journalist, Johnston said he has reached out to some of the evangelical ministers who back Trump, offering to provide evidence of how much the candidate’s personal views deviate from the philosophy that Jesus Christ outlined in his Sermon on the Mount. “I’ve called them. I’ve offered to go,” Johnston said. So far none has taken him up on the offer.
Having covered Trump since he was the Atlantic City bureau chief for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Trump was trying to break into the casino business in the New Jersey beach town, “I have probably the largest Trump document collection in the world,” Johnston said. An expert on tax law who lectures on the subject at the Syracuse University, Johnston said he believes, “in all likelihood, Donald has paid no federal income taxes for years.” That’s based on some documents that have leaked out from various court cases, Trump’s lack of charitable giving to his own family foundation (which suggested no need for deductions), and a gaping tax loophole available to real estate developers.
It’s also possible that Trump’s decision to break with long-standing campaign tradition and not release his tax forms could be based on his reluctance to reveal his true net worth. While Johnston says he believes Trump is “very rich,” he, like many others, questions whether he’s quite as rich as he makes himself out to be. Trump’s chief talent lies in “making deals to bring in money that supports a lifestyle” fit for a billionaire, Johnston said. “How many billionaires, who you really know are billionaires, do you see out hawking ties, steaks, bottled water and board games?”
For all his denunciations of Trump, Johnston’s journalistic career has made him uniquely qualified to understand the Republican presidential nominee’s appeal. “I started documenting the growing inequality in America when I started working for The New York Times,” he said. “Government rules take from the many and give to the already rich few.” The people who are being inexorably pushed out of the middle class are on the edge of despair, not least because their plight is so invisible, he argued. “They get almost nothing written about them.”
Johnston’s got a plan to tackle that problem too. He says the Trump book was an interruption from writing his real magnum opus. “I’m writing an entirely new tax code — soup to nuts,” he said.
TOPICS: Democracy & Government
TAGS: 2016 election, donald trump, economic inequality, Roy cohn, taxes

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