FLASHBACK: Trump took $17 million payout for hurricane damage that reportedly only cost $3,000
As Hurricane Harvey bears down on Texas, some are recalling that Donald Trump claimed that a hurricane damaged his private Mar-a-Lago club in 2005, but investigators found little evidence to back up the assertions.
LawNewz flashed back to the 2005 revelation in a Monday report about Trump’s $17 million insurance claim.
According to an investigation by the Associated Press in 2016, there was “little evidence of such large-scale damage” at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump claimed in a 2007 deposition that the damage was widespread: “Landscaping, roofing, walls, painting, leaks, artwork in the — you know, the great tapestries, tiles, Spanish tiles, the beach, the erosion.”
“It’s still not what it was,” he said.
But Trump’s account did not match up with others who spoke to the AP:
Trump’s description of extensive damage does not match those of Mar-a-Lago members and even Trump loyalists. In an interview about the estate’s history, Trump’s longtime former butler, Anthony Senecal, recalled no catastrophic damage. He said Hurricane Wilma, the last of a string of storms that barreled through in 2004 and 2005, flattened trees behind Mar-a-Lago, but the house itself only lost some roof tiles.
“The only permits that appeared hurricane-related were for $3,000 in repairs to storm-damaged outdoor lighting and the vacuuming of sand from the property’s beachfront pool,” the news agency noted. “Likewise, records of the city’s Landmarks and Preservation Commission reflected no repair work conducted following the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons.”
In the 2007 deposition, Trump admitted that he had pocketed some of the insurance money, which was permitted under his policy.
“We continue to spend the money because we continue to suffer the ravages of that hurricane,” Trump insisted. “We’re continuously spending money. It really beat up Mar-a-Lago very badly.”
The Associated Press pointed out that it is illegal under local government rules to spend more than $450,000 on renovations without a permit.