“What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander” – Elie Wiesel
I personally saw the cruelty, greed and crimes of Donald Trump ruin families who were my neighbors in the Atlantic City area more than two decades ago. As president of a nearby chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (Bucks/Mont PA), I led effort to alert small contractors of the pattern of fraud and the risk of dealing with the Trump Organization. It was tempting for them to “cross the river” to take jobs in the Atlantic City casino construction boom. As an accountant I helped prepare evidence for trial for my clients in at least two fraud cases where they were not paid for their work. As part of my work as an accountant focused on employee benefit plans I occasionally met with undocumented workers who worked for Trump or one of his contractors on his building sites (I don’t speak Spanish so the verbal communications were minimal and had to be translated).
I only spoke with Donald Trump two times. On both occasions the talk was superficial. It was not an opportunity to get into any meaningful dialogue but enough for him to make the clear impression that he was as ass.
During those times I had conversations with at least two accountants that worked for Trump, knew about his pattern of intentional fraud as a business strategy, and were ashamed of the awkward position. One of those relationships was a personal, not business, since I was divorced and dating in some of those years. So I was confident that the source of information about was reliable. But as far as I know they took no action to protect the victims. I was also vaguely aware that people in New Jersey government were aware of the crimes but I don’t recall that I had any in-depth conversations or knowledge of government in those years.
To this day I do not understand why those ‘ordinary people’ who saw the suffering of Trump’s victims remained silent.
I recently read an objective analysis of the Trump bankruptcies1 that was published in 2019. The article seemed to me to be cold and distant; as appropriate for someone who had no personal connection to the story. My connection was personal and emotional. I saw the effects on working class people who were my small business clients and neighbors. The 2019 article also reminds me that as time goes on, it becomes easier for society, at large, to ignore the human suffering.
In the most tragic story that deeply affected me, a neighbor family in the north end of Ocean City lost their small family business and home in Ocean City when Trump refused to pay a large bill for many months of service of cleaning Trump limousines. I tried to intervene but was unsuccessful. It sickened me that his accountant privately admitted to her boss’s fraud but publicly refused to do anything that might threaten her job security. The strain wrecked this couple’s marriage, and the man, a father of a little girl who played with my kids, essentially gave up on life. The last I heard the father was a dysfunctional alcoholic and the mother was struggling to keep the family together. I still have photographs of that innocent little girl who played with my kids. It hurts to even look at the photos knowing how this pig ripped her life apart. I suppose this personal emotional connection is what makes me different from those who saw the fraud but refused to take any action. I felt the effects of pain and suffering caused by this derelict.
To be clear: Every experience and indication I have of Donald Trump is that he portrays the exact opposite of every core value that I represent. I have observed that he is dishonest, greedy, rude, egotistical, unethical, a liar and a bully.
I will not be silent.
1 Murse, Tom. “Why Donald Trump’s Companies Went Bankrupt.” ThoughtCo, Oct. 21, 2019, thoughtco.com/donald-trump-business-bankruptcies-4152019.