Beginning sometime in March, ads by the “pro-family” New York Institute for Law and Society begin appearing on TV, on radio, and in newspapers. The ads accuse the Mohawk tribe of being in bed with organized crime. The visual ads include pictures of cocaine and syringes. They ask viewers, listeners, and readers a simple question: “Are these the new neighbors we want?”
Other ads warn that if the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation is allowed to build a casino, the surrounding communities will be drowned in “crime, broken families, bankruptcies, and in the case of the Mohawks, violence.”
But the Institute for Law and Society, which claims to be financed by 12,000 grassroots donors, is not a professional agency or even a well-established firm. It’s a cover for Donald Trump and Roger Stone.
Stone designed the ads, Trump approved them, and Trump — through his casinos — paid over $1 million for them.
New York State law requires lobbyists to register and report ad spending, but Trump and Stone didn’t report any spending or register their front company as a lobbying initiative. They won’t even acknowledge their involvement until regulators launch an investigation in July.
Trump’s lawyers argue that he spent money on free speech, not lobbying, and that the company shouldn’t matter since he’s been known to pay professional lobbyists in the past. That’s not how the law works.
A lawyer for Mr. Trump, Edward C. Wallace of Greenberg, Traurig, noted that Mr. Trump, following the commission’s advice, registered as a lobbyist in 1997 and again in 1998, and that his company, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts Inc., had reported its rather lavish spending on several of the state’s high-priced professional lobbyists.The New York Times
In October, Trump and Stone agree to pay a $250,000 fine, plus $50,000 on ads acknowledging that the Institute for Law & Society ads were Trump’s own doing. Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts is responsible for $50,000; Roger Stone is responsible for $100,000; and their front company is responsible for $100,000.
Throughout all of this, Trump is working with another tribe to help them qualify for a reservation. If his plan works, they’ll build a casino and he’ll get a percentage of the profits. (The plan fails.)
Photo: New York Temporary Commission on Lobbying