May 26, 2016
An open letter to Donald J. Trump:
On behalf of the countless New York citizens and businesses who worked so hard to heal after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, I have a simple question:
When do you plan on returning the taxpayer money that was designated to ease the suffering of our city’s small business owners?
Many Americans may be surprised to learn that after 9/11, you deliberately sought and accepted money from a fund designed to help small business owners harmed by the attacks. Using one of your companies – 40 Wall Street LLC, through which you own a skyscraper in Manhattan – you obtained funds from the World Trade Center Business Recovery Grant program.
It’s been reported that on your grant application, you claimed 40 Wall Street LLC – which employed 28 people and had $26.8 million in annual revenues at the time – as a “small business.” Despite the federal definition of a small business as having less than $6 million in revenue, you accepted a $150,000 payout.
In grabbing that money with both fists, you took it out of the pockets of small business owners in New York who were truly hurting, and prevented them from taking full advantage of the relief so generously offered by their fellow citizens.
You claim to be one of the biggest, richest, most successful developers in the city – yet you took taxpayer money from a grant program designed to help the “little guys.” Do you really consider yourself a small businessman? You have staked your reputation and your campaign on being anything but.
Of course, without releasing your tax returns, the true size of your success will remain a mystery. But in the meantime, we must conclude that you eagerly helped yourself to money meant to comfort those who lost so much in one of the worst national tragedies in our history.
Moreover, we know you did not use that public money to rehabilitate the allegedly “small business” at 40 Wall Street. Shortly after the attacks, you told a TV reporter that none of your properties were affected by the attacks. If you don’t remember saying that, you can watch the video on YouTube. Later, in 2005, you valued that same property – 40 Wall Street – at $400 million.
So if your “small business” was never damaged, why did you take taxpayers’ money?
I speak for New York’s 10th Congressional District – which includes the site of the Twin Towers and your skyscraper at 40 Wall Street – and all of its citizens and business owners, and as one of the lead authors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, helping the real victims and heroes who continue to suffer from those devastating attacks, when I make the following demand: Return the funds you received or donate them to a charitable organization dedicated to providing legitimate support for the victims of 9/11.
Throughout your campaign, you have cited your credentials as a New Yorker, and have said that “New York values were on display for all to see in the aftermath of 9/11.”
In those dark days, New York did show the nation our very best. But your exploitation of our bravest and most generous citizens shows us all we need to know about what lies within your heart. We should all expect better – especially from someone running to be our President.
Whatever the size of your business, we need no further proof that you are a small man.
With great respect for the people of New York,
Congressman Jerrold Nadler