Do Trump Org’s Legal Battles With Local Governments Pose a Conflict of Interest?
President Donald Trump’s business dealings have put him in a unique position among U.S. presidents. As a new investigative report by ProPublica notes, he is the first modern American President to own a company involved in legal battles with local governments.
Since becoming president, Trump’s companies have filed at least nine new lawsuits against municipalities in Florida, New York and Illinois, arguing for lower tax bills, ProPublica has found. Some of those lawsuits have been previously reported. At stake is millions of dollars that communities use to fund roads, schools and police departments...
No president in modern times has owned a business involved in legal battles with local governments. “The idea that the president would have these interests and then those companies would sue localities is really a dangerous precedent,” says Larry Noble, of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. The dynamic between local and federal governments is impossible to ignore in these cases, says Noble. Municipalities “rely on resources from the federal government and the federal government can make your life easier or much more difficult.” The concern arises because the president did not fully separate from his businesses, he says.
ProPublica delves into each of these lawsuits at length. They include actions against Ossining, NY; Chicago, IL; Palm Beach County, FL; and Manhattan, NY.
A spokesman for the Trump Organization responded to the report, saying its suits against local governments are much ado about nothing.
“Like any other business or property owner when property taxes become inflated it is not uncommon to challenge the process to ensure fair treatment. This is a routine practice and any suggestion otherwise is simply ridiculous.”