The Fight to Reopen Disneyland and How Trump's Businesses Have Made Money During His Presidency
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Visit Huntington Franchise, Dot com today for details on how to get started. It's Tuesday October thirteen. I'm Oscar Ramirez in Los Angeles, and this is the daily dive. When will theme Parks Comeback to California Disney the city of Anaheim is in a battle with the state to reopen Disneyland get back to normal. Guidelines reopening have not been released, but we do know some of the. The park would be limited to twenty five percent capacity and restricts visitors that live with one hundred and twenty miles. Park is a huge issue driver for local businesses, but a balance must be struck in protecting the health of the public and employ. Tarpley hit reporter at the daily beast joins us with a fight to reopen Disneyland. Text or president trump campaign getting rid of the swamp in. Washington's insider culture lobbying the actually built a swamp of his own his properties and businesses reap the benefits of public and private businesses and special interest groups spending money at those properties. According to The New York Times Sixty customers brought in nearly twelve million dollars to family business during the first two years of his presidency. And people knew where to find it. Trump is visited his resorts and hotels nearly four hundred days since his inauguration. Kenneth Vogel Reporter The New York Times joins US crowd trump's properties made money from those wanting to get close to the president. It's news without the noise. Let's dive in. The are not putting the health and safety of people visiting the state or recreation. The state at theme parks at risk joining us now is Tarpley hit reporter at the daily beast. Thanks for joining starfleet. Hey thanks. What wanted to talk about the fight to reopen Disneyland in California, there's other property. Obviously, Disneyworld has been open for a little bit of time now but in California, the fight is particularly difficult to be governor. Gavin newsom and other officials have failed to put out guidelines so far for Disneyland they want them they're asking for them the city of Anaheim where Disneyland is located is asking for the park to be reopened they're. Really, a driver of a lot of money in the city right there in the county, this land has been closer more than two hundred days. They've had to lay off a bunch of people and it has affects for all the businesses around it. So the businesses and Disney obviously want the park open, California, and the leadership. There are kind of taking their time with reopening the. So tarpley tell us about this battle to reopen. So Disney obviously closed back in March and they had initially planned to reopen in July right went disneyworld was going to be open. But at that time governor newsome had not yet released reopening guidelines for theme parks and so after making this big announcement, we're going to reopen they actually backtracking say, okay we're actually just going to open this small retail and restaurant strip the downtown Disney district, and so since then they've sort of been in this back and forth with newsom over when can we reopen? When are you going to release these guidelines and about two weeks ago Gavin NEWSOM was getting ready to release the reopening guidelines I believe on Friday October second. And then before he could former Disney CEO and now I believe Executive Chairman Bob Iger copy of the guidelines and quit the governor's Kobe nineteen economic recovery task force in protests. It's unclear exactly what he saw on the guidelines that concerned him but it seems like because nineteenth pretty infectious disease that there was going to be limits on capacity at the theme. So they were only going to allow twenty five percent capacity. Yeah. It seems based on Anaheim officials who saw the drafts they were also going to place limits on wear visitors could come from so people would have to stay from around the southern California area they couldn't come from you know New York. Signed within one hundred, twenty miles is what we're hearing, which puts a lot of people that want to travel and come to the park. You know it. So tourism heavy there that's probably something that they did not like seeing. But you know you also gotta think about the people that are working at the park. You know it's important to keep them safe. As you know in Disneyworld, they implemented a system where the people who staff the park we're getting tested daily on site and the workers have gone back to work at the downtown. Disney district have. been concerned that Disney did not implement onsite testing for the staff there. So that's sort of an ongoing thing. Also in the figuring out how to reopen amusement parks is how are we going to keep the people that run this place Dave and figuring out how to keep the people they're safe but on the flip side of that Disney has had to lay off I. Think it was twenty, eight, thousand workers overall but a lot of them did come. From California a lot of them were part time workers who didn't qualify for some of the benefits they had. But there was also fulltime workers I know unions are working with Disney to figure out how that is all going to turn out. So workers that were previously there and furloughed, and all they've been hit really hard as well. You know a lot of people are part time workers, which means that they didn't work enough hours to qualify for things like. Or healthcare but some of those people that were laid off did qualify for those things and now in the middle global pandemic, they will no longer have health insurance or no longer have health insurance still being. Hashed out between the unions and Disney. Disney executives are also getting blowback for laying off all these workers, but actually you know they took pay cuts at the beginning of this thing but now they're returning back to regular pay levels. So that's another criticism there that Disney leadership is getting. So, back in late March Bob Eiger announced, I'm going to forego my entire salary bob check back with fifty percent pay cut and the vice president's we're taking between twenty and thirty percent salary cuts. Those announcements were a little bit misleading because obviously with executive pay, you get a certain amount as a base salary and then you get a lot more in terms of performance bonuses. So for example, I believe Bob Agar's salary they were going with about two and a half million dollars, but he was going to make several times more that long-term bonuses. So this was represented a modest pay cut in fact, but then in late August, they announced in a letter. To shareholders that they were going to restore the pre pandemic of those executives and then a month and six days after that, they lay off twenty thousand people. So that's definitely caught some flak. It really seems like there's this big stalemate right now no end in sight for this, the governor needs to release some guidelines so they can start working for them. You know we've hearing that Disneyland is going to adopt the recommendations from the county health agency to reopen, but the need to get the green light from the governor as well. So it's just a tough thing. You know a lot of people want to get back to work the city of Anaheim suffers because. Around there rely on, Disneyland. Is a big economic driver. It's really tough and it doesn't seem like it's an open anytime soon. Yeah, I mean it's a tricky thing. It's sort of like this situation that a lot of businesses are in right now where it's like they want to reopen but health officials are not saying that it's entirely safe for indoor activities committees with lot of people to open, and that's a real catch. Twenty two might be softened if there were perhaps programs that could support people while they waited out the duration of the quarantine until we have. Vaccine and things that are really safe to return to business. By has newsom said I think in a press conference last week, he's going to be really stubborn about reopening. St. Mark's because they're taking health I approach I mean we saw what happened over the summer when Los Angeles County's specifically, you know reopened indoor dining it very quickly, and then we have this huge search somewhere cases. So I think officials are now taking a more cautious approach. Tarpley hit reporter at the daily beast. Thank you very much for joining us. 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Times it was last month that you released a bunch of president trump's tax returns, and really there was so much to go through and you guys have been doing a lotta great reporting digging in really deep into the president's financials and the latest story that you have is about how much the trump properties businesses have benefited from him being. President for a long. He had been campaigning draining the swamp, but he kind of created this new swamp reinvented it really in his own properties. There's a lot of businesses, a lot of foreign politicians a lot of people that have been going to trump properties they kind of know he's GonNa be there and they've all found a way to speak to the president at different times. There's just really a lot going on. So candidate view can help us with some of this tell us how these trump properties have benefited from the president. Many ways Oscar. They've been a rare bright spot in his business empire, which we reported using the tax data that we obtain really was struggling in the run-up to presidential campaign, and then even after he became presented extent that we have is ability to one year of his finances. At that point, the trump properties on the other hand particularly, the ones that he visited and patronized as president became sort of like they had a little bit of a home field advantage that is anyone who interface with government whether they were lobbyists. Foreign, officials or business owners who wanted something from the government knew as you put it that there was a good chance that he would be there and that even if he wasn't there that he was sorta keeping tabs on what was happening at these businesses and that's one of the things that we revealed that even as he said, when he came into office that he would distance himself from the businesses and put them in a trusted his son Eric trump would run that that was not the case he was very much aware of what was going on to the point where he was even being kept apprised of different managers, performances and potential weaknesses. So those properties when. I talk about those properties I mean there there are a few of them but the two biggies are mar-a-lago which she branded the Winter White House and the trump hotel in Washington DC right down the street from the White House. But then I guess do lesser extent bedminster where he also spent some time in the summers the became real hot spots for access brokering and you saw a number of folks patronize these properties as a way to get in good with the president here that actually be there with him and be able to plead their case or at least have him and his family know that these people were helping him by putting money in his family pocket. Tell us a little bit about who's going to these trump properties while he became president and what he delivered, what the Administration started delivering some for some of these people and entities that we're spending money there take one example mar-a-lago and you know he spent a lot of time down there for sure and there were entities trade associations like that would have their. Conferences they're hoping during the peak season that is the winter when Florida was a nice warm spot for the president to go and there were entities that would hold their gallons there with the hope of him dropping by there were lobbyists who became members of mar-a-lago. There's a guy one guy in particular Brian Ballard who was a fundraiser for the president's campaign and became. The president's election became one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington fact, politico ran a story calling him the most powerful lobbyists and trump's Washington and he was actually based in Florida and had done business with the president before but had never been a member of mar-a-lago and he and his clients would routinely show up at mar a lago for fundraisers. Or for other events when he knew that the president was going to be there and we're able to sort of plead their case and some examples of that are there was a Syrian opposition group that was urging a harder line against President Charlotte. All sides that was objectively sort of a good cause and that they wanted to prevent this brutal. Leader from clamping down on his own people and violent way. But Brian Ballard, encourage the members of this group that was paying Brian Ballard to show opt to pay to show up at a fundraiser with president trump they did so and we're able to make their case directly to them in a way that actually swayed him. Another one was an Indian. American businessman who was pushing for changes to the visa and immigration rules that would benefit companies and people sort of similarly situated and he felt that the president came through with a tweet after he made the case to the president at another one of these fundraisers. So you have this pattern here we're Brian Ballard is using what he understands to be this. Point of mar-a-lago and Brian Valor was sort of none too subtly pressure by people within the president or but like, Hey, you're making a lot of use of more longer. You should become a member and sure enough he became a member of mar-a-lago. He told us that he didn't do it for business reasons but because his mother really enjoy going there and having dinner there. So whether you want to take his word or not, you certainly see how it could be beneficial to a lobbyist to be able to have that unfettered access to the president for both the lobbyist and lobbyists. Clients. How much were the memberships tomorrow Lago because there was a couple of times with the president said Hey I should even increase the membership fees because to weed out the fakers or something like that. Yeah. He did in fact, increase the membership fees he raised it to two hundred thousand dollars I. think it was more than half of that but I think it was one, hundred, twenty, five, thousand before he became president, it was raised to two hundred thousand dollars after he was elected and then it was subsequently raised again to two hundred fifty, thousand dollars. So almost doubled. In the time that he's been president and they added a bunch of new members and you know it's tough to say definitively like in the case of Brian Valor, you see certainly how the cost benefit analysis would weigh in favor of him becoming a member but people have all kinds of different reasons. There's another Guy Elliott Brady, who was a major donor and fundraiser for Republican campaigns for years including trump's, and he had a defense contracting business and you did a lot of business at the trump hotel in Washington to became a member of mar-a-lago people close to him said. That that was because his in-laws lived at South Florida spend more time there. But again, it's certainly benefits someone like that to have that access point and I should also point out that Elliot Brady. Just last week was charged with a single count of conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws in an effort to get a Malaysian businessman and Malaysian prime minister in with trump and one of the places where he wanted to do that was none other than bedminster trying to organize a golf game for the then Malaysian Prime Minister who is subsequently also been convicted of corruption back home in Malaysia? Tell me a little bit about the trump hotel in Washington because that's been a big hub for religious gatherings and other people that want to do fundraisers and tours in there. So tell me about the trump hotel in Washington. Insurance is another access point and you make a good point too that sometimes just getting that picture is the goal but getting that picture can be quite valuable particularly for foreign politicians were they wanna be able to signal that they have the support of the United States and that is beneficial to them back home to their domestic audiences to be able to suggest that they have an advantage over. Rivals or opposing candidates or rivals within their own parliamentary government's because they have access to the President United States, and so as an example that we site in the story of Elliott Birdie again bringing some Romanian politicians including a guy who happens to be under a corruption investigation to the trump hotel during inauguration week, and they bumped into president trump and these people say it was totally random impromptu nonetheless. This Romanian. Politician ended up getting a photo of shaking hands with President trump putting on facebook and characterizing it as some kind a great victory where he extracted from president trump a promise of closer ties with Romania, it's unclear whether that happens certainly seems to be somewhat exaggerated but you have an example of how it can be beneficial to someone just to get that photo now on the religious groups. And there's a little bit of a different twist, a number of these conservative religious groups actually see it. They're they're quite open about saying that they want to reward president trump for being good on their issues and the way that they're doing that is by renting out the space that the trump hotel in order to have their conferences the it's tough in some ways I mean we talk about how? There's not necessarily a direct provable causal link and with the religious groups in particular or actually with any of the groups having events at the trump hotel in. Washington know the trump hotel the nope in until right around president trump's inauguration. So this is all new business, these groups, all did their conferences that they would do in Washington, which is a common thing for groups that have an interest in public policy. Annual Conference in Washington they all had done them previously somewhere else that trump hotel rates were not always competitive sometimes, they were much more. But nonetheless, some of these religious groups thought that it was something where they were showing appreciation for president trump had been good on their issues including abortion taking a very hard line against abortion by having their events or another one is gun rights groups. They were quite pleased with the trump presidency and his sort of absolute disposition on the second. amendment. And they to at events there and and most of the cases except for some of the religious groups who who will admit yes we're trying to help president trump because he has helped us in other cases such as with the Second Amendment called the National Sports Shooting Foundation that had a big event at the trump hotel they say, oh no, it was just a good deal. We got a good deal there. That's why we decided to do it there and we reflected them saying. That in the story, even as I think a Lotta readers would conclude that maybe they were all cheerier motivations. Last question I have briefly how much money are we looking at because there's one hundred thousand dollars here a few extra hundred dollars there for holding fundraisers, booking rooms all the whole thing how much money are we looking at the trump properties have gotten from all of this it's difficult to say overall but one thing that we can calculation that we did make was that. We found sixty customers of trump properties that had interests at stake before the federal government that spent nearly twelve million dollars during the first two years alone of the trump presidency and that almost all these sixty customers ended up having their interest advanced in some way shape or form by the president or his government. So twelve million dollars, it's probably just the tip of the iceberg, but you do see the relationship between spending money at the trump hotel and getting something from the trump administration. Vogel reporter at The New York Times. Thank you very much for joining us. I. Pleasure to be with the Oscar. Did. That's today join us on Social Media at daily autumn both twitter and instagram. We've comment give us a rating tell or is that you're interested in? All of us, an iheartradio subscribe wherever you get your podcast. This episode of the daily divers produced by right and engineered Tony Soren Tina. 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