A Guide for Digging Through Trump’s Financial Disclosures 

Here’s how we searched through President Donald Trump’s financial disclosures, and how you can, too.

When President Donald Trump’s latest financial disclosure form was released last week, we dropped what we were doing and started digging.

We found a few things, including some newly registered companies and a jump in revenue for Trump Productions, which helped produce shows like “The Apprentice” and the lesser-known dating show, “Donald J. Trump Presents: The Ultimate Merger.”

We’ve decided to show how we did it so you can help us go deeper. Below are tips and tricks for finding noteworthy items buried in the 92-page disclosure.

First, some background. Trump’s financial disclosure form, which he files each year with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, provides the most detailed account available of the president’s finances, from his sprawling business empire to individual payments made to his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. The forms are the best window we have into his financial holdings. (His tax returns would also be helpful, but he hasn’t released those.)

To see newly created companies, we put Trump’s new disclosure form next to last year’s form. That’s how we found T Retail LLC, an “online retail business; startup” that’s listed in the 2018 disclosure, but not in the 2017 one.

Based on its description, we suspected the company was tied in some way to TrumpStore.com, which launched in November 2017 and sells Trump-branded clothing and merchandise.

To confirm this, we used the website OpenCorporates to see where the company is registered. The site showed T Retail LLC registered in Louisiana and Florida. Previous stories have noted that TrumpStore.com only gathers taxes from a few states, including Louisiana and Florida.

We checked Trumpstore.com’s shipping and returns page, which says it collects sales taxes for four states: Louisiana, Florida, New York and Virginia. So then we went to those states’ business registry websites and found T Retail LLC listed in each of them.

Aside from some new companies,we also found companies that disappeared on this year’s form and others that saw spikes or big dips in revenue. Here are some deals we’re interested in knowing more about:

  • Trump disclosed his financial interest in a company, SC Cleveland MS Management LLC, which is managing the Trumps’ two new hotel chains: Scion and American IDEA. The president, who said during a press conference days before his inauguration he would have nothing to do with new businesses, reported receiving nearly $27,000 in management fees from owners of the first American IDEA hotels, Dinesh and Suresh Chawla. We’ve written about this business partnership before, but we didn’t know how much the Trumps stood to gain through their new hotel deals, or if the president would be collecting income. Now we do.
  • Westminster Hotel Management LLC was formed in May 2017, and has collected around $20,000 in management fees. The hotel division of the Trump Organization reportedly has a management agreement with a Kushner Companies-owned hotel in Livingston, New Jersey, called the Westminster. This appears to be the only non-Trump-branded hotel that Trump is managing.
  • Another new company, SC Pier Village Management LLC, has not reported any income. It’s possible this company, which was formed in May 2017, is part of an expected management deal between the Trump Organization and the Kushner Companies on an oceanfront development on the Jersey Shore called Pier Village.
  • Golf Productions, a Trump “golf video production” company founded in 2009, showed $270,000 in revenue in 2017, up from zero the year before. It’s possible this is related to two golf events held at Trump properties in 2017: the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open and the Senior PGA Championship.
  • Another new Trump company listed on the disclosure is T Promotions LLC. It had no revenue in 2017, and it is not registered as corporate entity in Delaware, Florida or New York, which is required before it starts doing business in those states, where other Trump companies are based.

A note to readers looking through disclosures: In the past the Trump Organization has used “revenue” and “profit” interchangeably, though they are not the same thing.

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