Donald Trump steals stuff. Goods and services. From regular people, like you and me.
He stole $30,000* worth of pianos from the Freehold Music Center in Freehold N.J. (Details here.) He took more than $100,000 worth of telecom services from a company by Brian Walsh’s father. (Here’s the skinny. Worth noting? Mr. Walsh works for a Republican public affairs firm, and while he won’t vote for Donald Trump, he won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton, either.) From among the 100+ additional reports about Donald Trump stealing goods and services, his theft from the people who catered the Marla Maples wedding stands out. (Read about it here.)
Ranking Mr. Trump’s defalcations—taxes, charity, women, ignorance, boorishness, etc.—escapes me. Too much bad stuff. Too little time! (I also think we need a new lexicon. I don’t go down the four-letter route, both on account of trolls, and because Facebook watches over language. But gross, and evil, and outrageous don’t cut it.) That all said, Mr. Trump’s thievery hits raw spot for me.
Let me clear out a bit of underbrush before I proceed. First, using a corporate / limited liability entity to protect against personal liability bothers me not at all. If one of my clients want to take a flier and not risk all of her assets in the process, G-d bless. Bankers and vendors can get personal guarantees, or pass on dealing with her corporation or limited liability company. Limited liability entities exist for that very purpose.
Second, bankruptcy also bothers me not at all. (When a so-called businessman brags about his successes and has four corporate bankruptcies in his past, that’s another matter!) Bankruptcy has its roots in the Bible. See, Leviticus 25:39, and Deuteronomy 15: 1-2. “Fresh starts” encourage risk-taking, and that’s worthy.
Finally, people I know tell me “it’s business; rich, smart people take advantage of all of the angles.” As it happens, I represent and deal with rich, smart people. Often. Guess what? They pay their bills. Mine, and all of the others they receive. Outliers—like Mr. Trump—aside, this claim lacks evidence. (I’m not naïve. Corporate America and, in particular, public companies, must answer for much. But flat out stealing goods and services? Nope!)
I provide legal services. The people I know, in the main, sell goods, services, or both. My gig has served me well, but I’m ever concerned about new business. And that’s where Mr. Trump’s thievery takes me.
I know the thrill which comes with getting wealthy, famous—in my case, the fame has been modest—clients. Way cool! So I can imagine how J. Michael Diehl felt when he got the piano deal. How excited Brian Walsh’s dad must have been. And how the young caterer felt when she got the Maples-Trump wedding contract.
I’ve been extremely fortunate about payments. I’ve had “no-pay” clients, but the situations have been rare and, generally, the money to pay me simply hasn’t existed. So I’m guessing here, but the pain associated with being stiffed by someone whose persona is all about “I’m rich” must be extraordinary. Worse, surely, than the ordinary situation, where the goods and services get provided and the money never arrives.
Here’s what Mr. Trump told the caterer when she tried to get paid:
I know you are new at this, and when you tell people you catered MY wedding, you will get more business than you could ever dream of. So I am doing you a favor. And when I do favors, I don’t pay. End of discussion.
I called Mr. Trump out, at the outset, for stealing goods and services. And more. More? From the 1000+ people he stiffed, he stole dreams. Theirs.
*A reader correctly noted what I missed: the piano seller received payment of 70% of the agreed upon price for the pianos. Apologies for the error. As for the notion that people don’t always get paid in full, that’s certainly true. When someone so often fails to pay in full, the conduct becomes noteworthy. And when the payor claims a net worth of $10B, and makes his wealth and how he made it his significant qualification to hold the office of President of United States of America, no one should ignore the matter.