The LA Times recently ran a long article detailing the frustrations of those who bought into one of Donald Trump’s many failed business ventures: the Trump Ocean Resort in Baja, Mexico.
The report begins with the story of Stephenee Simms, a buyer who withdrew over $50,000 from her life savings in order to put a deposit down on a one-bedroom condo located on the property. Simms, along with about 250 other buyers, ended up losing her hard-earned money in the process and is making her feelings of betrayal known to the public. She and the other buyers are claiming they were defrauded by the GOP frontrunner whose campaign relies on his carefully-crafted image as a “savvy businessman.”
The project began in 2006, with Trump participating in an aggressive marketing campaign before he abandoned it in 2009, in the wake of the global financial crisis. Trump’s sales team had even printed blue, suede-bound books for potential buyers, promising them a fancy vacation getaway where they could “relax by the infinity-edge pool, margarita in hand, as the cabana boy brings fresh towels.”
Ivanka Trump herself, in a video on the Baja project’s website, told potential buyers the following:
‘WE ARE DEVELOPING A WORLD-CLASS RESORT BEFITTING OF THE TRUMP BRAND. I’M VERY EXCITED ABOUT IT. I ACTUALLY CHOSE TO BUY A UNIT IN THE FIRST TOWER.’
Such promises of luxury, of course, proved to be empty and unfounded. Trump characteristically denied any wrongdoing for his failed venture, claiming that all his company really did was license his name to the project without actually being involved in its literal development. This, of course, directly contradicts much of the language used by his daughter on the Trump Baja website.
Several buyers ended up bringing a lawsuit against Trump and his children, alleging justifiably that they were misled into thinking he was seriously involved in the property’s development through his aggressive marketing campaign. Trump and his organization, however, deflected the blame for the project’s failure, and by extension their responsibility to refund the buyers, onto two other developers: Irongate Wilshire and affiliate P.B Impulsores. They claimed that these developers were the ones who collected all of the buyers’ deposit money, spent it, and subsequently failed to get the construction loan necessary to get the project off the ground. The other two developers settled the lawsuit after agreeing to pay $7.25 million for their part in the failure.
Another one of the buyers, Tony Brown, who lost a $170,000 deposit to the failed project, told the LA Times:
‘WHEN WE FOUND OUT LATER IT WAS JUST A BRANDING SCHEME, WHATEVER CONFIDENCE WE HAD IN HIS ABILITY TO TAKE A PROJECT AND BRING IT TO FRUITION WENT OUT THE WINDOW.’
Brown did not participate in the lawsuit because he claimed he did not want to waste any more money.
Trump’s unsavory business practices have provided fodder for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign against him. In a recent speech in Ohio, Clinton said the following about the frontrunner’s long history of failed businesses:
‘HE MAKES OVER-THE-TOP PROMISES THAT IF PEOPLE STICK WITH HIM, TRUST HIM, LISTEN TO HIM, PUT THEIR FAITH IN HIM, HE’LL DELIVER FOR THEM. HE’LL MAKE THEM WILDLY SUCCESSFUL, AND THEN EVERYTHING FALLS APART. AND PEOPLE GET HURT.’