City investigates political events at Trump Tower

A missing bench results in a $10K fine after the Donald is a no-show at a hearing
June 24, 2016 08:30AM

From Left: Trump Tower with bench and current Trump Tower without bench (photos from (inset: Donald Trump)

From Left: Trump Tower with bench and current Trump Tower without bench (photos from (inset: Donald Trump)

Is Donald Trump using Trump Tower for campaign events? That’s what city officials want to know, as they investigate whether the developer turned presidential candidate is inappropriately using the lobby of His Fifth Avenue tower for political use.

The latest issue surrounds a 22-foot bench that is supposed be in the lobby of Trump Tower and available to the public. It has been missing for some time and on Thursday, city officials fined Trump $10,000 after representatives for the presidential candidate did not show up at a hearing.

The bench was part of a 1970s deal Trump made with the city, in which the developer was permitted to add 210,873 square feet – or about 40 percent more space – to his 58-story Fifth Avenue tower.

The default and fine resulted from a “scheduling error” by one of Trump’s lawyers, Trump executive vice president Michael Cohen told the Wall Street Journal.

But a spokesman for the Department of Buildings told the paper, “Our enforcement actions will continue until the owner upholds their agreement with the city.”

The issue of the bench, however, is just part of the city’s inquiry into is whether the mogul turned politician has been using Trump Tower’s public space for campaign events. Trump valued his interest in Trump Tower Commercial LLC at more than $50 million, according to his May 2016 campaign finance disclosure form.

Earlier this year, the city asked Trump Tower Commercial LLC to remove 40-foot Trump Store counters that had been set up in the building’s 6,626-square foot, marble atrium and lobby of the building. In addition to selling campaign hats and other gear, the store accepted campaign contributions.

After some delay, Trump relocated the store counters to a lower level but paid a $4,000 fine for not doing so immediately.

In May, the city’s Department of Buildings and Department of City Planning launched an inquiry into whether Trump closed off the lobby for campaign events. The original agreement allows Trump to close the space up to four times a year, with city approval.

The Trump Organization maintains there is “no agreement” to prevent him from using the property “for any purpose he deems appropriate.” [WSJ] – E.B. Solomont