The Donald said he received 17 million dollars from insurance in 2005 to cover severe storm damage to his private club in Palm Beach, Florida. However, as reported by the Associated Press, there appears to be little evidence supporting the claim that severe damage occurred.
Trumped Up Insurance Fraud?
Anthony Senecal, Trumps’ long time former butler, recalled little damage to the home stating that though some trees were flattened, the home itself only lost a few roof tiles.
“That house has never been seriously damaged, I was there for all of them,” stated Senecal when recalling the storms he had weathered.
Just two weeks after the storm caused an alleged 17 million in damage, Trump hosted the wedding of his son Donald Jr. on the estate. A pretty small time frame for doing 17 million in repairs. Wedding photos of the event showed no damage to the estate save for the lawn damage. Surely grass and trees do not cost such a high dollar amount.
Tim Frank, Palm Beach’s planning administrator during the time period, stated $17 million in repairs would have required “dozens, maybe scores of workers.” Considering that Trump built from scratch a 20,000 square foot ballroom for 6 million in 2004, it would seem unlikely that the repairs described by employees would cost more than several thousand at best.
“If there were $17 million dollars of damage, we sure as hell would have known about that,” stated Frank. “I would have known if there was anything in the magnitude of $100,000,” citing the habits of neighbors on turning each other in for code violations and his departments vigilance in the area.
But What About Building Permit Records?
It would appear that Palm Beach records show no permits for building on that scale according to the Associated Press report. Permits showed different work being done: grease trap installation and landscape work. The only records that show hurricane related repairs were from outdoor lighting and vacuuming sand from Mar-a-Lagos’ beachfront pool.
So what happened to all that money? Apparently most of it went into Trumps’ personal accounts. Trump stating that his insurance policy did not require him to reinvest the funds.
“We had a very good insurance policy, actually,” stated Trump. Sounds like he might need a very good insurance lawyer.