CfA Asks US DOJ to Investigate Donald Trump for Filing Apparently Inaccurate Financial Disclosure Forms
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 30, 2016
Contact: Daniel Stevens, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the non-partisan watchdog group Campaign for Accountability (CfA), filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section requesting an investigation of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for filing apparently inaccurate financial disclosure reports for 2015 and 2016.
Comparing the valuations Trump claimed in his financial disclosure forms with those made in various tax filings, it appears Trump has vastly overstated the value of his golf course empire and the income at least some of his courses have generated.
CfA Executive Director Anne Weismann stated, “While candidates are free to engage in hyperbole on the stump, they are expected to provide honest and accurate information in their financial disclosure forms.”
On the financial disclosure forms Trump filed with the Federal Election Commission, he claims to own 16 golf courses collectively valued at a minimum of $550 million. In contrast, other valuations of the courses suggest a total of approximately $160 million.
For example, while Trump has valued the Trump National Golf Club Jupiter in Jupiter, Florida, at more than $50 million on his forms, he argued to Palm Beach County the property was “worth no more than $5 million,” when challenging the county’s assessment.
Similarly, Trump valued the Trump National Golf Club-Los Angeles and the Trump National Westchester at over $50 million each, but the Los Angeles course is reportedly worth only $15 million and the town of Ossining, NY appraised the latter course at $14.3 million for tax purposes, though Trump himself is arguing its actual worth is only $1.4 million.
Trump repeated the pattern with courses in Scotland and Ireland, claiming on the financial disclosure forms that they are worth at least $50 million apiece, but reporting much lower values to other authorities.
According to the Society for Golf Appraisers, golf courses are generally valued at 1 to 1.5 times the revenue a course produces annually. Applying that formula here, in 2015 Trump reported revenue of less than $160 million, making his golf empire worth between $160 million and $250 – only one-third to one-half of what he claimed on his forms.
Knowingly and willfully filing false financial disclosure statements is a felony punishable by up to 5 years’ imprisonment as well as civil fines.
Ms. Weismann continued, “By using one set of valuations on his federally filed forms but wildly different numbers in other forums, Trump has clearly been talking out of both sides of his mouth. And this could be more than just a lie; it might amount to a crime.”
CfA is nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.