If you’re going over the Whitestone Bridge and notice that the driver in the next car over is sticking up their middle finger, it might not be because of anything you did behind the wheel. As you enter the Bronx, just off to the right of the bridge, is Trump Links and its enormous sign that just screams out for a good flip of the bird for having to be reminded of its very existence.
The world was reminded of the golf course on Wednesday, when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) mentioned it during her questioning of Michael Cohen, specifically referencing the 2016 Washington Post article about it, and saying, “That article is where many New Yorkers and people in the country learned that taxpayers spent $127 million to build Trump Links in a ‘generous deal allowing President Trump to keep almost every dollar that flows in on a golf course built with public funds.’”
Annoying as this may be, the mention of Trump Links was but an entrée into discussing actual malfeasance in the form of various tax dodges over the years by Trump. The deal for Trump Links is on the up-and-up, just a standard kind of thing in America where the public pays a bunch of money to build a sporting facility that becomes a cash cow for some already rich dude. Just this week, Long Beach, Calif., was talking about building a stadium for the Angels, because sure, why not?
Speaking of new stadium projects, the Buffalo Bills are trying to figure out whether to start one, or whether they should renovate their current home. How much public money will go to that? Well, in October, Pegula Sports and Entertainment – which owns the Bills and the NHL’s Sabres – hired Christopher Schoepfin, who had been Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top economic development official in the western part of New York State.
However much the Pegulas contribute out of pocket on whatever stadium project they pursue, you know it will work out great for them in the long run, because that’s how this game works. And how did the Pegulas come to own the Bills, anyway? Right, that would be a highly-ridiculed sale process five years ago following the death of Ralph Wilson, a sale process that included a bid from Donald Trump. We all got to remember that on Wednesday, too, because part of the Cohen hearing included tell of how Trump’s effort to buy the Bills included inflating his net worth by $4 billion as he attempted to get a loan from Deutsche Bank.
While the idea that the NFL would welcome Trump as an owner was far-fetched even at the time, given how Trump’s time with the USFL went, it’s worth considering why he was so interested, even if he claimed after the sale that he wasn’t interested in meeting the sale price in the first place. Obviously, being an NFL owner is glamorous, powerful, and an extremely profitable enterprise even if you’re a complete dullard, to the point where bootlicking sociopaths will make t-shirts glorifying you after you’re busted for solicitation in what turns out to be a human-trafficking sting. But what would really make Trump’s eyes pop is an NFL team playing in a stadium built in 1973, and the real estate opportunity that would eventually create.
The Cohen hearing brought light to a lot of criminal activity. The way that sports facilities get built is perfectly legal, but when you think about it, and who benefits from it above anyone else, maybe it shouldn’t be.