Manhattan Councilman Mark Levine put forth a resolution this Thursday to end Trump Organization contracts with New York City.
The Trump Organization currently has four contracts with the New York Parks Department: Central Park’s Lasker and Wollman Skating Rinks, the Central Park Carousel, and the Trump Golf Links in the Bronx.
Levine has stated that the city has precedent for ending contracts with organizations with corrupt dealings, and that a city contract with a company owned by the President of the United States violates the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the constitution. He also argues that the Trump Organization’s associations with these landmarks is causing the city to lose money from Trump’s publicity since the election, making the contracts less profitable than with other organizations.
The Trump Organization and Donald Trump himself have been embroiled in a number of legal battles in recent years. Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance and other violations on Trump’s behalf. A state attorney general investigation found that Donald Trump misused his charitable foundation for personal gain, stating that the Trump Organization had “operated in persistent violation of state and federal laws,” resulting in a $2 million fine against the Organization.
For these and other grievances, Levine said, “Now that Donald Trump has moved out of New York City, he should take his corrupt businesses with him.” Levine referenced precedent for such a premature contract termination in his statement. “This is exactly the [reason] used for cancellation of a similar concession agreement with another company in 2011, when the Parks Departments terminated the contract of East Coast Golf, Inc., to run a golf course in Marine Park, Brooklyn, because of alleged ties to organized crime.”
Levine also asserts that these contracts fall under the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the constitution, which mandates that the President cannot continue to benefit from government contracts predating his presidency upon entering the presidency. Along with all of this, Levine cites the financial hit these landmarks have suffered from their association with the Trump Organization. In both of the Central Park skating rinks, revenue dropped five percent after the 2016 presidential election, and the Central Park Carousel’s profits fell from $188,000 in 2015 to just over $30,000 in 2018. The Trump Organization decided to remove the Trump name from the Lasker and Wollman skating rinks in October of this year, and from a sign for the Carousel (technically called the Michael Friedsam Memorial Carousel) in 2017.
The Carousel and both rinks in Central Park are up for renewal in 2021. “As 2021 approaches, … our fight has to be that we just don’t renew these,” Levine said. The Bronx golf course’s contract is set to end in 2032.