It appears that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, typically a fan the huge and dissolute, has been minimizing public perception of his debt.
A New York Times investigation published on Saturday reveals that U.S.-based real estate companies owned by Trump are at least $650 million in debt. Only half this amount was disclosed in the public F.E.C. filings Trump completed in order to run for president.
The Times qualified that Trump’s lack of transparency in his filings may be due in part to the complexity of his finances, and the simplicity of the forms he and other candidates were required to fill out:
“That Mr. Trump seems to have so much less debt on his disclosure form than what The Times found is not his fault, but rather a function of what the form asks candidates to list and how.
The form, released by the Federal Election Commission, asks that candidates list assets and debts not in precise numbers, but in ranges that top out at $50 million — appropriate for most candidates, but not for Mr. Trump. Through its examination, The Times was able to discern the amount of debt taken out on each property, and its ownership structure.”
Wouldn’t it be crazy if presidential candidates honestly publicized their finances without being forced to? Or if a government form contained an “other amount” option?
Furthermore, according to the Times’ report, Trump has woven a shady web of financial backers to support his real estate assets. Trump has launched attacks against some of these backers on the campaign trail. For instance, the Bank of China, among the largest banks in a country Trump has repeatedly antagonized on economic grounds, lends money to a building in Manhattan that Trump partially owns.
But many of Trump’s financial ties remain partially or completely mysterious, due to the labyrinthine structuring of his real estate projects.