New York City Cancels Contracts With Trump Organization

Jan 12, 2021
Originally published on January 14, 2021 7:15 am

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that in light of President Trump's role in last week's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, New York City is cutting its business ties with the president's company.

"The President incited a rebellion against the United States government that killed five people and threatened to derail the constitutional transfer of power," de Blasio said in a statement. "The City of New York will not be associated with those unforgivable acts in any shape, way or form, and we are immediately taking steps to terminate all Trump Organization contracts."

The Trump Organization, made up of hundreds of businesses owned by the president, has three contracts to run concessions in New York City: the Central Park Carousel, the Wollman and Lasker skating rinks, and Ferry Point Golf Course. The attractions bring the company $17 million a year, according to The Washington Post.

"In light of last week's attack on our Capitol and our democracy, we have concluded that it is in the best interests of New Yorkers for the City to commence the process of cancelling these contracts and terminating its business ties with the Trump Organization," corporation counsel James Johnson said in the statement from the mayor's office.

The statement said the contracts' termination clauses are somewhat different. Termination of the carousel contract occurs after 25 days' written notice; termination of the ice rink contracts requires 30 days' notice; termination of the golf course contract is more complex "and is expected to take a number of months."

Trump, a Queens native whose name appears in glittering block letters on high-priced Manhattan real estate, has long had a contentious relationship with his hometown. His conservative politics and policies clash with the more liberal bent of New York City. And when it comes to taxes, Trump has often been accused of skimping on his payments to the state of New York.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump filed paperwork in 2019 to make Florida their primary residence, and when they did so Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted, "Good riddance. It's not like @realDonaldTrump paid taxes here anyway... He's all yours, Florida."

An investigation published last fall by The New York Times showed that for many of the years leading up to his presidency, Trump paid nothing in federal income taxes and only $750 the year he won the election. Still, despite promising he would do so, Trump has not yet released his personal returns and instead continues to loudly trumpet his protestations he pays millions.

In New York, Trump is the subject of ongoing investigations into fraud, a criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and a civil investigation by the New York State Attorney General's Office.

After the events of last week, Trump's financial problems have multiplied quickly.

A growing list of major businesses have announced plans to pause or sever their ties with Trump. The PGA of America canceled its plans to hold the 2022 PGA Championship at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Stripe, a tech company that processes credit card transactions, has stopped processing donations to Trump campaign committees, according to The Associated Press.

And Deutsche Bank, which has $340 million in outstanding loans to the Trump Organization personally guaranteed by the president, has also said it will no longer do business with Trump, according to The Times.

Christiana Riley, CEO of the bank's U.S. operations, took to LinkedIn to express her concern over the violent events at the Capitol.

"[Jan. 6] was a dark day for America and our democracy," Riley wrote. "Violence has no place in our society and the scenes that we witnessed are a shame on the whole nation. We are proud of our Constitution and stand by those who seek to uphold it to ensure that the will of the people is upheld and a peaceful transition of power takes place."

An earlier version of this story was published Jan. 12, 2021, reporting that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was considering termination of the city's contracts with the Trump Organization.

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TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

New York City is canceling its business ties with the Trump Organization. It's pulling out of $17 million in agreements with a company owned by the president. NPR's Sally Herships checks in with New Yorkers for their thoughts on the end of Trump's deals in the city.

SALLY HERSHIPS, BYLINE: New York City has four contracts with the Trump Organization, managing a golf course in the Bronx to ice skating rinks and a carousel in Central Park. But de Blasio says city contracts come with an exit clause. New York can opt out if company leadership is engaged in criminal activity, which is what he says the president has done.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BILL DE BLASIO: Inciting an insurrection. Let's be clear. I'm going to say these words again. Inciting an insurrection against the United States government clearly constitutes criminal activity. So the city of New York will no longer have anything to do with the Trump Organization. They have profited from these contracts. They will profit no longer.

HERSHIPS: And at $17 million, the deals represent just a tiny fraction of New York City's annual budget - $90 to $95 billion. But Brooklyn residents Glenn Jussen and his wife Isabel Wesel say the mayor is doing the right thing. They're sitting in the sun on a green bench in a park in Brooklyn, intent on a folded-up piece of paper - a crossword puzzle. They say the puzzle's theme is the perfect fit for how they feel about Trump's business deals in New York City.

ISABEL WESEL: It says, get out of here. That's actually the theme. I swear to God.

GLENN JUSSEN: It's perfectly appropriate.

WESEL: And it's - it couldn't be better for an impeachment day. Get out of here.

HERSHIPS: A few minutes later, Michelle Valladares, a poet and lecturer at City College, walks by with her dog. She says she's disgusted by the president's actions. She's glad to hear the mayor's news. But she says this is a precarious time and passions are high, so she hopes the mayor moves slowly.

MICHELLE VALLADARES: Before reacting, I think it's really important to calm our minds and to really not abandon what's legal and illegal.

HERSHIPS: Valladares wants to make sure what New York does with the contracts is legal. A review by the Citizens Budget Commission says that two of the four agreements were already set to expire in just a few months. The Trump Organization didn't respond to a request for an interview in time for air.

Sally Herships, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF PETE ROCK'S "HEAVEN AND EARTH") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.