Wealthy Trump Donors Buy Access And Tax Breaks

12/04/2017 06:48 am ET Updated Dec 04, 2017
The interior of Le Cirque on East 58th Street. The Christmas Eve menu, appetizer, main course, and dessert, without drinks, s
Bloomberg
The interior of Le Cirque on East 58th Street. The Christmas Eve menu, appetizer, main course, and dessert, without drinks, starts at $125 per person. New Year’s Eve starts at $395, again without drinks.

In September Donald Trump threw himself a big party at New York City’s Le Cirque Restaurant with 150 of his richest friends. They paid an estimated $5 million to party with the President. Ordinary tickets cost $35,000. For a $250,000 “contribution,” a couple had a private tête-à-tête with “The Donald.” The fundraising extravaganza now seems even more grotesque as Trump and the Republicans work to pass a tax scam that benefits the mega-wealthy who attended the dinner at the expense of everyone else.

The Republican National Committee refused to release a list of the people who partied with the President, but some attendees were identified. Billionaires who dined with Trump included New York real-estate tycoons Richard LeFrak, Howard Lorber, Steve Witkoff, Stanley Chera, and Steven Roth; casino operator Steve Wynn; grocer and oil-refinery owner John Catsimatidis, Gary Cohn, former president of Goldman Sachs Group, Bob Wright, former NBC Universal chairman, Elliott Broidy, a California venture capitalist, Roy Bailey, Trump Texas fundraiser and Partner in Giuliani Partners, and Brian Ballard, lobbyist and Florida fundraiser. They were joined by Donald’s sons Eric and Donald Jr., Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, and Republican National Chair Ronna McDaniel. It is as if Trump “drained the swamp” in Washington DC by bringing it to New York.

According to New York Times business analyst James B. Stewart, the Republican tax cuts are “almost tailor-made to enrich the president and people like him.” Even conservative commentators are forced to agree. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the conservative advocacy group American Action Forum, noted that “Commercial real estate came out essentially unscathed” and real estate developers got even more breaks in the Senate tax version of the bill. Other pending tax breaks for Trump and his friends include a lower high-tax bracket, big tax cuts for corporations which heavily favor wealthy shareholders, lower pass-through rates that allow highly paid professionals like lawyers to pay less taxes if they call themselves corporations, repeal of the alternative minimum tax, and favorable treatment for rental income, royalty payments and licensing fee.

Here is more information on the wealthy Trump donors who will profit from “tax reform.” They are listed alphabetically.

  • Roy Bailey is a Texas businessman was a member of Trump’s inaugural committee and previously Texas state co-finance chair for the Trump campaign.
  • Brian Ballard is a Florida lawyer and lobbyist and President of Ballard Partners. His ties to Trump has brought him new clients including Amazon, U.S. Sugar, the ruling party of Albania and the Republic of Turkey, which pays Ballard Partners $1.5 million a year.
  • Elliott Broidy is a venture capitalist influential among Hollywood conservatives. In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty to giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to state officials in order to secure a lucrative deal with New York’s public pension fund.
  • John Catsimatidis is the founder and chairman of Red Apple Group, a New York-based conglomerate with interests in energy, real estate and grocery stores. He owns United Refining, which operates a Pennsylvania refinery that produces about 70,000 oil barrels a day. His net worth is about $4 billion.
  • Stanley Chera is a New York real estate developer, founder of Crown Acquisitions, an investor in One World Trade Center, a major landlord in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and an occasional business partner of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
  • Gary Cohn, Trump’s national economic adviser, was an investment banker and risk manager at Goldman Sachs and from 2006 to 2017 the company’s President and CEO of the global investment banking firm where he was paid over $20 million a year. He received a severance package of $285 million when he left the company to join the Trump Administration.
  • Marc Kasowitz is Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Besides Trump, he represented Bill O’Reilly when O’Reilly was accused of sexual harassment. He also represents the largest state-run bank in Russia and a company owned by a Russian oligarch.
  • Richard LeFrak is the CEO of the LeFrak Organization, one of the largest real estate empires and landlords in New York City. His family is estimated to be worth $6.3 billion.
  • Howard Lorber is the President and CEO of Vector Group Ltd. and Chairman of Douglas Elliman, the largest residential real estate brokerage in the New York metropolitan area. He was paid $42.5 million in 2015. Lorber is also chairman of the Nathan’s Famous fast-food chain.
  • Ronna McDaniel is Chair of the Republican National Committee and has ties, through the Mackinac Leadership Conference, with billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education. She is also part of the wealthy Romney clan.
  • Steven Roth is a real estate investor, the founder and chairman of the Vornado Realty Trust, and a Trump business partner. Forbes estimates his personal net worth at over $1 billion.
  • Trump sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric are is Executive Vice Presidents of The Trump Organization. Donald Jr. is reportedly worth $150 million on his own. Eric Trump may be worth as much as $300 million.
  • Steve Witkoff is another New York City real estate tycoon. Bob Wright is a former General Electric and NBC executive and a long-time friend of Donald Trump. Steve Wynn is a real estate and casino magnet worth an estimated $2.4 billion.

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