It’s good to have friends in high places. Even if one of those places is New Jersey.
The New York Times has a scoop today about how presidential candidate and racist catcher’s mitt Donald Trump managed to virtually skip out on a massive $30 million tax debt. And it may have something to do with his longtime pal Chris Christie.
When Christie took office in 2010, Trump had been in a years-long battle with the state of New Jersey over taxes owed by his famous, and none too profitable, casinos in Atlantic City. For six years, authorities in the state “had doggedly pursued the matter,” even as the casinos filed for bankruptcy. Twice.
From the Times:
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 that the Trump casinos should have paid $8.8 million in alternative minimum taxes for those two years, according to court records.
But the state’s “dogged” fight became markedly less dogged when Christie came into office. The “tone” of the litigation began to shift, the Times says, and settlement offers started to come up. In the end, the state agreed to accept just $5 million to retire the $30 million debt.
Christie and Trump have known each other for over a decade. Trump appeared as a guest at Christie’s 2010 inauguration, and the men occasionally go on “double dates” — which is apparently a thing adults do — with their wives. Christie has become a reliable Trump surrogate on the campaign trail, even after a Republican primary campaign in which the governor repeatedly declared Trump unfit for the presidency. He’s never looked all that comfortable in the role, however, as evidenced by his now-infamous televised endorsement, during which Christie stood behind Trump with a facial expression that evoked a bad mushroom trip.
If Trump’s deeply discounted tax bill was the result of political connections, it wouldn’t be the first time The Donald had managed to secure preferential treatment by currying favor with people in power. When Trump University was facing a fraud investigation in Florida, then–attorney general Pam Bondi got a $25,000 donation from the developer, and the case promptly disappeared.
In fact, from his earliest dealings in New York, Trump has managed to use fishy political connections to enrich himself. The Grand Hyatt Hotel, which Trump still touts as the deal that made him, came as the result of unprecedented tax breaks and interest-free loans from the administration of Mayor Abe Beame.