Donald Trump Archives - Page 7 of 233 - Florida Politics

Report: Pam Bondi still being considered for job in Donald Trump administration

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi might be saying farewell to Tallahassee.

Jennifer Jacobs with Bloomberg Politics reported Thursday that Bondi will likely take a job in President-elect Donald Trump’s White House. According to the report, it was not immediately clear what her title would be, and she wasn’t among a list of White House appointments announced earlier in the week.

Bondi’s name has been floated as a possible appointee since Trump won the presidential election. She was an early supporter of the New York Republican, but found herself under a microscope because of a $25,000 donation Trump’s foundation made to a political committee associated with Bondi back in 2013.

Bondi later declined to pursue claims that Trump University defrauded Florida residents.

The Tampa Republican has been tight-lipped about her future. She has met with Trump, but in December said she wasn’t prepared to answer whether she would finish her term as Attorney General.

 On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Times reported Bondi wouldn’t comment on whether she was being considered for a position, saying she would “never discuss anything confidential.”

Blaise Ingoglia calls for plan to make Florida red permanently

Earlier this week, Republican Party of Florida chair Blaise Ingoglia issued a statement to his fellow State Executive Committee Members promising to roll out his next “aspirational vision” for the future of the party.

Ingoglia is engaged in a bid for another two-year as party chair, running against Sarasota committeeman Christian Ziegler.

On Thursday he announced “Project Majority Red,” his goal to make Florida a permanently Republican state when it comes to voter registration.

The Florida Democratic Party currently has an approximately 300,000 advantage over Republicans in voter registration — but that’s down from almost 500,000 advantage from two years ago, Ingoglia notes.

Due to its razor-close elections for president and governor over the past two decades, Florida has had the reputation of being a “Purple State,” though some believe that phrase may be outdated when considering that Donald Trump won the state’s 29 electoral votes last month.

Combined with the fact that Republicans already control the governor’s mansion and the entire Florida Cabinet, as well as huge majorities in the state Legislature, it’s harder for Democrats to argue otherwise — particularly when they didn’t win the presidential contest, which they were able to do in 2008 and 2012.

Democrats have always led in voter registration, however, in part because many residents in the more conservative northern part of the state have never switched party registration.

But Ingoglia says the goal of “Project Majority Red” is all about making the Sunshine State a “majority red” state, not only by overtaking the Democrats in voter registration, “but keeping it that way for future elections.”

Ingoglia says that Sen. Marco Rubio (who has endorsed his candidacy for re-election) and others donors have agreed to help fund such a program.

On Wednesday, Ingoglia boasted about his effectiveness in improving the RPOF’s ability to have absentee ballots returned. In a statement, he said that under the reforms his team has put in place over the past two years, the return rate for absentee ballots was at 84.5 percent, an improvement of four percent from the previous record from 2012, an improvement of 21 percent.

“The data shows that the Republican Party of Florida reforms, investment, and strategy accounted for almost 58,000 additional ballots cast this election cycle!” Ingoglia wrote. “Instead of wasting millions of dollars on some ineffective GOTV plans, we worked smarter and more efficiently and it showed!”

Meanwhile, Ziegler has sent out a notice to members of the state executive committee saying that Ingoglia has not returned his request for a debate before they vote on a new chair on January 15. In order to provide any additional information to those who may still be undecided in the race, he is hosting a conference call with all voting members on Thursday night.

 

 

Florida panther deaths still at record-high for 2016

A record number of endangered Florida panthers died again last year — 42 of the remaining big cats were killed, matching the 2015 record. Thirty-four were hit by vehicles in southwest Florida, where development is shrinking what’s left of their habitat.

The tally kept by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission includes six new litters, with a total of 14 cubs born in 2016. But the state estimates that only 100 to 180 of the big cats remain in the wild.

Critics say government officials have failed to implement “coherent efforts” to save the Florida panthers. In a statement Wednesday, Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said he doesn’t expect their plight to improve under President-elect Donald Trump.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Mitch Perry Report for 1.5.17 – Poll says voters want Dems like Bill Nelson to fight Donald Trump when necessary

We’ve heard from several Florida Democrats (such as Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist) that, when appropriate, they look forward to working with President-elect Donald Trump once he takes office later this month.

The question for them and other Democrats concerned about their own poll numbers as well as what’s good for the country is where and when they decide to go along with Trump and, more likely, when do they oppose him.

On a conference call yesterday, the folks with the Center for American Progress provided the details about a new poll they conducted in 14 battleground states where Democrats like Bill Nelson will be running for re-election in ’18. The survey concluded that a majority of the public want Senate Democrats to serve as a check and balance on the new president and congressional Republicans even if it means blocking his initiatives “on many occasions.”

That could be a challenge for Nelson, who, on occasion, can be progressive, but also likes to maintain a centrist mien, especially when election time comes around.

Well, good luck to him on that one, because he’s being challenged right now by his supporters here in the Tampa Bay area. Yesterday, dozens came to call on him to, at the very least, call for a delay in the confirmation vote scheduled for next week for Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s choice for Attorney General.

One area where Nelson one might be surmise he’ll stick with his liberal colleagues is in acting as a bulwark to defend the Affordable Care Act.

“They want to repeal it and then try to hang it on us. Not gonna happen. It’s their responsibility, plain and simple,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference.

Dems have been pushing the reality that if the Republicans have a legitimate vehicle to replace the ACA with, nobody really knows what it is. And no doubt, some in the GOP might be fearing the repercussions of taking away people’s care.

“Republicans must be careful in that the Dems own the failed ObamaCare disaster, with its poor coverage and massive premium increases……like the 116% hike in Arizona,” Trump tweeted yesterday, adding, “Also, deductibles are so high that it is practically useless. Don’t let the Schumer clowns out of this web…massive increases of ObamaCare will take place this year and Dems are to blame for the mess. It will fall of its own weight – be careful!”

Meanwhile, Schumer’s office said yesterday that the Democrats are targeting eight Trump Cabinet nominees for extra scrutiny, name checking Rex Tillerson, Betsy DeVos, Steven Mnuchin, Scott Pruitt, Mick Mulvaney, Tom Price, Andy Puzder and Wilbur Ross.

Schumer said he wants their full paperwork before hearings are scheduled, adding that only a few have turned it in while most haven’t. Schumer said he also wants their tax returns, particularly because some are billionaires and given the potential for conflicts of interest.

Those hearings begin next week.

In other news…

The race for the Florida Democratic Party gets crazier by the day. Yesterday we learned that 13 members of the Miami-County DEC filed a complaint with the FDP regarding the circumstances that have allowed Coconut Grove real estate developer and donor Stephen Bittel to be eligible for the party chair position. Earlier in the day, Tampa’s (or should we say Bradford’s) Alan Clendenin was shooting down a complaint filed against him regarding the circumstances that have allowed him to become eligible in the race.

The House of Representatives is poised to vote on condemning President Obama and the UN for that resolution last month castigating Israel for continuing to build settlements in the West Bank. The resolution was written by Polk County’s Dennis Ross.

And newly sworn-in Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren celebrated his victory on Tuesday night with friends and family in Tampa Heights.

Activists want Bill Nelson to delay confirmation hearing on AG nominee Jeff Sessions

Of the many Cabinet choices made by President-elect Donald Trump, some of the strongest opposition centers around the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.

Wednesday morning in Tampa, a group of activists spoke with officials in Sen. Bill Nelson‘s district office, calling on him at the very least to call for a delay a vote on Sessions’ confirmation, scheduled for January 10. Outside, a couple of dozen more concerned citizens held signs and spoke to reporters about their opposition to the Alabama Republican.

“We think that over the course of his career, Sen. Sessions used the power of the courts to discriminate against civil rights leaders, allegedly using racially charged language to disparage minorities, expressed support for the KKK and then tried to dismiss it as a joke,” said Toni Van Pelt, the president of the Pinellas County-based Institute for Science and Human Values.

“He celebrated the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, opposed same-sex marriage, denied the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade, voted against greater access for health care for veterans, blocked the paycheck fairness act, and voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act,” Van Pelt added

“He should not be the Attorney General of the United States.”

Other groups represented at the rally included the Tampa Bay Coalition of Reason, the Clearwater Unitarian Universalist Church, AAUW, Suncoast Humanist Society, Atheists of Florida and Center for Inquiry-Tampa Bay, and numerous Bay area chapters of the National Organization for Women.

The reason for the call to delay next Tuesday’s confirmation hearing is that the groups allege that Sessions has failed to provide media interviews, speeches, op-eds and more from his time as U.S. attorney in Alabama, the state’s attorney general and his first term as senator, from 1997 through 2002. As reported by CNN, the progressive groups contend that Sessions listed just 20 media interviews, 16 speeches outside the Senate, two op-eds, an academic article and a training manual, as well as just 11 clips of interviews with print publications — including none before 2003.

Sandra Weeks, with the West Pinellas County chapter of NOW, rapped Sessions for failing to disclose his long history with Breitbart News, the conservative website that was formerly run by Steve Bannon, now serving as chief White House strategist in the incoming Trump administration.

Weeks cited the fact that Bannon once called Sessions “one of the intellectual, moral leaders of this populist, nationalist movement in this country,” which was just reported Tuesday by the Huffington Post.

A spokesman for Senator Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN on Sunday that Sessions has been forthcoming with information on his questionnaire.

“The notion that Sen. Sessions — somebody who committee members have known and served beside for 20 years — hasn’t made a good-faith effort to supply the committee with responsive material is preposterous,” said a spokeswoman for Grassley. “It’s been clear from the day Senator Sessions’ nomination was announced that the left-wing advocacy groups aren’t interested in a fair process and just want a fight. We trust the minority committee members will have the courage to give Senator Sessions the fair and respectful process he deserves.”

Nadine Smith, the head of Equality Florida, met with staffers in Senator Nelson’s office. She calls the Florida Senator “an absolute statesman,” but said that “these are the times that call for people with some fight in the belly.”

“We can’t start normalizing this sexist bigotry, this racism, and this is the place where you draw the line, and you fight back and you hope the senator will hear that message and understand that there’s an awful lot of us who have his back if he’s willing to fight as hard he’s needed to,” Smith said.

Nelson is up for re-election in 2018.

When asked if she’ll continue to support him if he were to vote to confirm Sessions later this month, Smith replied: “I think that anyone who normalizes this administration’s horrific cabinet selections (and) does not demand a level of vetting, will lose the confidence of voters in Florida.”

Last November, just 10 days after Trump was elected, FloridaPolitics asked Nelson his thoughts on the nomination of Sessions to be AG.

“I will certainly reserve judgment if he is the nominee until we go through the hearings and it comes to the full Senate for a vote,” Nelson said at a news conference at his downtown Tampa district office.

“I can tell you that Jeff Sessions and I have worked on a number of pieces of legislation together in a bipartisan way and I’ve always had a very good working relationship with him.”

Last year, Nelson and Sessions worked on a bill that would reduce the number of H-1B visas from 85,000 to 70,000 a year. The filing of that bill came following reports Disney and other companies are using the visas to cut costs at the expense of American workers.

On Tuesday, more than 1,200 faculty members from law schools around the nation wrote to Grassley and Judiciary ranking member Diane Feinstein, calling on them to reject the Sessions nomination.

A poll released by the liberal Center for American Progress on Wednesday showed that by a 61 percent to 25 percent margin, voters in the battleground states (like Florida) want Senate Democrats to be an independent check and balance on Donald Trump, even if this means opposing Trump’s policies on many occasions. Fifty-six percent of these voters want Senate Democrats to try to block Trump’s plans on many occasions. Across all 14 states in the survey, 59 percent of voters want their Democratic senator to be an independent check and balance on Donald Trump, compared with just 28 percent who want their senator to mainly support Donald Trump’s policies.

“Senator Nelson always appreciates hearing from his constituents and will certainly take their views into consideration if Sen. Sessions’ nomination comes before the full Senate for a vote,” said Nelson spokesman Ryan Brown.

 

Bill and Hillary Clinton to attend Donald Trump inauguration

Falling in line with tradition, Bill and Hillary Clinton plan to attend Donald Trump’s inauguration. It’s a decision that will put Hillary Clinton on the inaugural platform as her bitter rival from the 2016 campaign assumes the office she long sought.

The Clintons announced their decision to attend the Jan. 20 inauguration shortly after former President George W. Bush’s office said Tuesday he would attend along with former first lady Laura Bush.

The Bushes are “pleased to be able to witness the peaceful transfer of power — a hallmark of American democracy — and swearing-in of President Trump and Vice President Pence,” Bush’s office said in a statement.

It is traditional for former presidents and their spouses to attend the inauguration.

But the decision to attend was fraught for the Clintons, given Hillary Clinton’s bitter campaign against Trump. The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee has largely avoided public appearances since Trump defeated her in November.

Bush, too, has had a difficult relationship with Trump. His brother Jeb ran against Trump in the GOP primaries. George and Laura Bush let it be known they voted for “none of the above” for president rather than cast a ballot for Trump, but the ex-president did call to congratulate Trump after his victory.

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, earlier said they plan to attend Trump’s inaugural.

Former President George H.W. Bush, 92, and his wife, Barbara, do not plan to attend the inauguration due to the former president’s age and health, his office said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz push bill to move American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

The United States has had an embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, for over a half century. But that may change if a new bill co-sponsored by Marco Rubio and a rival from his presidential campaign gets through Congress.

The Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, filed Tuesday in the Senate and co-sponsored by Rubio, former 2016 presidential primary rival Ted Cruz, and Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller, would relocate the embassy to Jerusalem.

All three senators offered quotes along those lines, via a news release sent out from Rubio’s office.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, and that’s where America’s embassy belongs,” said Rubio. “It’s time for Congress and the president-elect to eliminate the loophole that has allowed presidents in both parties to ignore U.S. law and delay our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem for over two decades.”

Cruz noted that “the Obama administration’s vendetta against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this simple truth — let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate venue for the American embassy in Israel — is shocking in some circles. But it is finally time to cut through the doublespeak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel.”

Heller framed the legislation as a way for America to “reaffirm its support for one of our nation’s strongest allies by recognizing Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. It honors an important promise America made more than two decades ago but has yet to fulfill.”

With indications being that President-elect Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have a solid working relationship, this legislation provides an opportunity to affirm ties between the incoming administration and America’s most stalwart ally in the Middle East.

John Rutherford opposed controversial House ethics changes

For those watching to see how Rep. John Rutherford will function in Congress, the Jacksonville freshman congressman may have passed his first test.

Rutherford opposed Monday’s move by House Republicans to eviscerate the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

That move has already been reversed, vindicating Rutherford’s position.

Rutherford committed to working across the aisle during a primary campaign full of pitched partisan rhetoric, and maintained that position through the November election.

And that commitment to bipartisan solutions animated his opposition to the offensive against OCE, as Rutherford believed that any reform should be a bipartisan effort of the House Ethics Committee.

Rutherford wasn’t the only Florida Republican opposed to the move; as Mitch Perry reported, Rep. Dennis Ross likewise opposed the move … one that was questioned by President-elect Donald Trump on Twitter Tuesday morning.

Florida Democrats urged Republicans to stand and be counted regarding their position on this matter.

“Floridians deserve to know which of their Republican members of Congress voted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics last night,” said spokesman Max Steele. “If they would like to offer any justification whatsoever for why they feel there should be no ethics oversight for members of Congress, we’re all ears. After turning a blind eye to Trump’s historic corruption and conflicts of interest, it’s no wonder Republicans want a piece of the action.”

While some Florida Republicans did vote to “gut” the office, Rutherford was not one of them.

As Matt Dixon noted on Twitter, OCE oversight factored into Florida politics very recently, with high-profile inquiries from the office into the affairs of Democrats Alan Grayson and Corrine Brown.

For now, at least, the OCE appears safe from “reform.”

Dennis Ross says he opposed original GOP vote to gut ethics office

(UPDATE) Following the uproar Tuesday morning over a private vote by House Republicans to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, the GOP conference voted to restore rules that have been in existence for the past eight years.

However, the PR damage has been substantial.

A spokesperson for Polk County Republican Dennis Ross says the GOP Representative opposed Monday night’s vote to gut the OCE, created in 2008 after several members of Congress were convicted of crimes and sent to jail. The office has the power to conduct investigations of House members and employees who have been accused of violating laws, rules or congressional norms.

“Rep. Ross opposes the change to the rules. Conference is meeting now in a special session. I suspect it will be stripped,” emailed Jodi Shockey, Ross’s communications director, late Tuesday morning to FloridaPolitics. As she predicted, the House Republicans reversed their vote shortly afterward.

The Florida Democratic Party said they wanted to know which Republicans did vote to support gutting the OCE.

“Floridians deserve to know which of their Republican members of Congress voted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics last night,” said spokesman Max Steele. “If they would like to offer any justification whatsoever for why they feel there should be no ethics oversight for members of Congress, we’re all ears. After turning a blind eye to Trump’s historic corruption and conflicts of interest, it’s no wonder Republicans want a piece of the action.”
The Miami Herald reported that Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen did vote in support of killing the OCE on Monday night. Later in the day, Curbelo released a statement saying he supports referring the matter to the House Ethics Committee.
“The House ethics process needs to be reformed in order to better investigate allegations of misconduct,” the CD 26 Republican said Tuesday afternoon. “I support referring this matter to the House Ethics committee where Republicans and Democrats can work together on bipartisan reforms that would ensure Members of Congress are‎ held accountable while given due process to address accusations.”

Tuesday’s reversal came after President-elect Donald Trump tweeted his disapproval, as did Democrats and even the head of the conservative-leaning group Judicial Watch.

The House GOP vote on Monday night effectively killed the OCE, stripping it of its independence. It would have reported to the House Ethics committee, meaning that Congress would ultimately control the investigations of its own members.

The office would no longer take anonymous complaints and would not be authorized to make public statements or hire a “communications director or press spokesperson” to speak with news outlets. And it’s name would change from the Office of Congressional Ethics to the Office of Congressional Complaint Review.

Two members of the Florida Democratic Congressional delegation blasted the move earlier in the day.

“Shameful move by House GOP on first day of new Congress” tweeted Tampa Democratic Representative Kathy Castor.

In a similar vein, the move was blasted by South Florida Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who tweeted: “Day 1 & wants to gut the ethics process. Governing under a cloak of darkness is not how to .”

 

 

Golf club shows pitfalls of Donald Trump presidency

The decorative clock bearing the name of America’s incoming 45th president has yet to start at the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai, but the developers behind the project already are counting the money they’ve made.

The 18-hole course is likely to be the first Trump-connected property to open after his Jan. 20 inauguration as president, joining his organization’s projects stretching from Bali to Panama.

It also encapsulates the host of worries of possible conflicts of interest circulating around a president who is very different from America’s past leaders. While the Oval Office has always been home to the wealthy, Donald Trump represents the first franchise president.

Could foreign governments pressure or please Trump through his international businesses? Should projects bearing his name receive additional security? And how close should his ties remain to business executives operating in areas with far different opinions about human rights and justice?

“There has never been anything remotely like this — not even close,” said Robert W. Gordon, a legal historian and ethics expert who teaches at Stanford University. “Trump himself tends to treat his businesses and his public policy as sort of extensions of himself. He seems to be completely unembarrassed about scrambling up and conflating his business enterprise and the actions and policies of the U.S. government.”

The Trump International Golf Club in Dubai — the sheikhdom in the United Arab Emirates home to a futuristic skyline crowned by the world’s tallest building — is due to open in February and be managed by Trump Organization employees.

The course sits along a road that begins near the sail-shaped Burj al-Arab luxury hotel and passes by a mall with its own artificial ski slope. The luxury continues onto the par-71 Trump course, designed by American golf architect Gil Hanse, where wrinkled fairways lead to putting greens made smooth with silica sand brushed in between micro-blades of grass.

It is set inside Akoya, a massive housing development of 2,600 villas and 7,000 apartments developed by Dubai-based luxury real estate DAMAC Properties. Another Trump-managed golf course is planned for another even larger DAMAC project under development further down the road.

Billionaire Hussain Sajwani, who founded DAMAC Properties in 2002, met Trump some 10 years ago and the two men hit it off over their real estate experiences, said Niall McLoughlin, a senior vice president for communications and marketing at the firm.

“When we approached them in 2013 about the golf course, he, of course, knew who DAMAC was,” McLoughlin told The Associated Press on a recent trip to the golf course. “They subsequently cemented the family relationship as well. … A lot of our dealings have been with Eric, a lot of our dealings have been with Ivanka. They have traveled here — and Donald Jr.”

Sajwani and his family also attended a New Year’s Eve party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, with the incoming president describing them from on stage as “the most beautiful people from Dubai.”

Trump received between $1 million to $5 million from DAMAC, according to a Federal Election Committee report submitted in May. It’s unclear how much the contract will be worth once the golf course opens and starts operating. McLoughlin declined to offer specific figures.

It is the first Trump venture in the Arab world. His first proposed project in Dubai, a 62-story tower with state-backed developer Nakheel, became a victim of the sheikhdom’s 2009 financial crisis.

By 2014, Trump knocked a golf ball down the fairway of what would become the golf course at Akoya. Sajwani called Trump a “great man” during the tour, and DAMAC later designed some 100 Trump-branded villas at the property, selling from 5 million dirhams ($1.3 million) to over 15 million dirhams ($4 million).

With Trump set to be sworn in as president, security analysts have suggested properties bearing his name could be targets. His campaign pledge calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S., followed by his proposal to conduct “extreme vetting” of immigrants, also sparked regional anger. The Trump logos on the golf course even came down for a short time.

Still, the United Arab Emirates, a staunch U.S. ally in the war against the Islamic State group and host to some 5,000 American military personnel, remains a peaceful corner of the Middle East.

“Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world,” McLoughlin said. “Dubai has proved itself to be safe. We have no extra concerns about this golf course.”

Dubai police did not respond to a request for comment about security at the property.

Financial matters raise other questions.

DAMAC, a private company, purchased the property for Akoya from Dubai’s government in 2012 for around $350 million. Dubai’s government ultimately answers to the emirate’s hereditary ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also is the UAE’s vice president and prime minister.

All services to the property — electricity, water, roads — come at the discretion of the government. The club’s bar will need government approvals to serve alcohol, not to mention other regulatory issues.

That could raise concerns about the so-called “emoluments clause” of the U.S. Constitution, which bars public officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments and companies controlled by them without the consent of Congress.

Any negotiations involving the Trump brand at the least could create the appearance of impropriety, legal experts warn.

“He has so many properties that his business interests become an obvious target for both bribes and threats,” said Gordon, the Stanford law professor. “The dangers really come in two directions: One is that foreign powers will try to use Trump’s interests as a way of bribing him into public policies in a way that are friendly to them or use them put pressure on him.”

Trump has said he will step away from managing his business empire while in office, but has offered few details other than to say his executives “will run it with my children.”

Erik Jensen, a law professor emeritus at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said that alone could pose problems.

“Turning over control to the kids just doesn’t do it. They clearly are going to be having holiday meals together, talking on the telephone,” Jensen said. “There’s going to be a lot of contact there.”

Even putting assets in a blind trust, like other presidents have, likely wouldn’t work since, for example, he would know the trust holds a golf course in Dubai. “You can put it in the trust, but the adjective ‘blind’ wouldn’t apply in that situation,” Jensen said.

Also, DAMAC’s Sajwani has had dealings with the U.S. government. He credits some of his fortune to contracting work his companies did in supplying U.S. forces during the 1991 Gulf War that expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Over the past decade, his companies have been awarded at least $1 million in contracting work, according to U.S. government records reviewed by the AP.

McLoughlin did not respond to a query regarding whether DAMAC would continue to seek U.S. government contracts.

DAMAC stock traded after the election at near a yearlong low of 2.02 dirhams (55 cents) a share, in part due to the company announcing an 11.7 percent fall in third-quarter profits as Dubai’s housing market has slowed in 2016.

Stock then rebounded, reaching 2.53 dirhams (69 cents) just before New Year’s Eve, as the company began handing over properties at Akoya.

Sajwani’s business dealings have drawn international scrutiny in the past. After Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring protests, a local court sentenced him to five years in prison and a $40.5 million fine over a 2006 land deal. Egypt and DAMAC later reached an undisclosed settlement in international arbitration and Sajwani never served prison time.

DAMAC, which competes against largely state-backed developers in Dubai, focuses on flashy projects, like offering homes built around luxury Bugatti sports cars. But when it comes to building the projects, it like other companies relies heavily on subcontractors who largely employ low-paid laborers from Asian countries like India and Pakistan.

There have been no formal complaints by workers alleging the Trump golf course or the larger DAMAC project mistreats laborers.

However, that alone shouldn’t be taken as a sign that everything is fine, said James Lynch, who focuses on Gulf labor issues for Amnesty International.

The Emirati government and local businesses remain sensitive about their image in regards to the millions of workers employed in the country, something Lynch knows all too well as he was barred from entering the UAE in 2015 to discuss laborers’ rights.

“Under international standards, construction companies in the Gulf are not only responsible for how they treat their direct employees,” Lynch said. “They have a responsibility to put in place measures to ensure that their subcontractors do not abuse the rights of people working for them.”

The Trump Organization and his transition team did not respond to AP requests for comment. McLoughlin of DAMAC did not respond to a request for comment regarding labor issues.

For now, workers manicure the golf course’s empty greens. Others put the finishing touches on a clubhouse that will feature a bar, a water-pipe tobacco lounge and restaurants for those paying the course’s dues, which start at around $10,000 a year.

While DAMAC’s contract with Trump allows them to use his image in advertising the course, McLoughlin said the company would be “tasteful” in its promotions. However, he said at least some of Trump’s children likely would be on hand for the opening of the course.

“It’s their baby,” McLoughlin said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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