POLITICS
01/05/2017 09:12 pm ET

Contractors File Liens Against Trump D.C. Hotel, Claiming They Were Stiffed Out Of $5M

International Hotel laborers join long line of unpaid Trump workers.

Gary Cameron / Reuters
Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Donald Trump, wife Melania, and daughters Tiffany and Ivanka Trump attend a ribbon-cutting at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in October.

Three contractors have filed liens against President-elect Donald Trump’s showcase Washington, D.C., hotel, claiming they are owed $5 million in labor costs, according to records.

The so-called mechanic’s liens were filed against the 263-room, five-star Trump International Hotel in November and December with the District of Columbia, according to records obtained by Bloomberg and The Washington Post. Trump has boasted that he completed the $212 million renovation ahead of time and under budget.

A statement from the Trump Organization to the Post did not specifically address the merits of the filings, only that “nominal liens at the conclusion of construction is not uncommon as part of the close out process.”

Trump, who campaigned as a champion of the American worker, was criticized during his presidential race for his long history of refusing to pay or only partially paying blue-collar workers and small-business contractors. He claimed that he was justified because some of the work was subpar — though he occasionally rehired the same contractors for later projects. He also told The Wall Street Journal that even if work was “OK, sometimes I cut them.” Trump companies also dodged payments to hundreds of workers and vendors by filing for bankruptcy protection six times since 1991.

Some of his contractors have said they were forced out of business because of unpaid Trump bills.

In the Trump International Hotel liens, Washington plumbing and heating firm Joseph J. Magnolia Inc. says it’s owed $2.98 million, and Maryland company AES Electrical Inc. has filed a $2.075 million lien. A&D Construction of Virginia says Trump International has failed to pay $79,700 for installing base and crown moldings, according to records.

Magnolia worked on the Trump hotel for more than two years and “completed all plumbing, mechanical, HVAC [heating and air conditioning] along with site sewer, water, storm and water services” on the project, according to its filing with the D.C. government, The Washington Post reported.

Company owner John Magnolia told the newspaper in an interview that he voted for Trump, but he’s worried the final payment might not be made if the hotel changes hands before the inauguration to resolve ethics concerns.

“We’re kind of working through that right now,” Magnolia told the Post, referring to the millions still owed. “Unfortunately, Mr. Trump and Ivanka and so forth, they are, I guess, preoccupied by other matters now. They are trying to go run the country. So we’ll just see what happens.”

An attorney for the Hispanic-owned A&D Construction said the company is a small operation that needs the money it’s owed, but it has not heard back on its requests for payments even after filing the lien.

“I have not heard from anyone. My client is a small-time operator, so he does not have deep pockets,” attorney Richard Sissman told the Post.

If the liens aren’t resolved, lawsuits can be filed 180 days after the liens.

The hotel, on the site of the city’s former historic post office, is leased from the federal government. Ethics watchdogs and Democrats have called on the president-elect to give up his financial stake in the building, citing lease terms prohibiting elected officials from receiving benefits from it. In addition, the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution prohibits elected officials from accepting benefits from foreign powers. Trump has pointedly encouraged visiting dignitaries to book rooms in his hotel. 

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