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The Real Deal Los Angeles

One of Trump’s biggest donors is accused of ripping off LA tenants

Billionaire Geoff Palmer named in class action lawsuit
February 22, 2019 03:00PM

Donald Trump, Geoff Palmer and Downtown Los Angeles (Credit: Wikipedia)

UPDATED on Feb. 22, 2019, at 3:26 p.m.:  A lawsuit claims that billionaire developer Geoffrey Palmer, one of President Donald Trump’s largest donors, has denied apartment tenants across Los Angeles of millions of dollars in security deposits.

Palmer’s company, G.H. Palmer Associates, allegedly kept the deposits of some 11,000 former renters illegally, NBC reported. The accusations were detailed in a class-action lawsuit filed by San Diego attorney Jimmie Parker.

Parker alleges Palmer’s company “systematically and in bad faith” retained deposits by failing to properly document charges.

Landlords are required by law to provide reasons for keeping deposits when tenants move out. Instead, Palmer Associates justified withholding them using generic descriptions of “maintenance charge,” or “cleaning charge,” the lawsuit claims. More than two dozen tenants had previously sued Palmer for unwarranted charges.

G.H. Palmer Associates did not respond to The Real Deal’s request for comment.

The firm controls some 11,600 apartments and is worth $4.5 billion, according to its website.

Palmer has been one of Trump’s largest donors, contributing millions to his legal defense and campaign, including at least $6 million to the Rebuilding America Now political action committee, which is reportedly under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

In 1991, Palmer was charged with paying employees to donate to a campaign that opposed the incorporation of what is now Santa Clarita. He has since also been involved in lawsuits over development projects and affordable housing, including one lawsuit for demolishing the last cottage in Bunker Hill. [NBC] —Gregory Cornfield