A New York City Councilmember is resuming calls for the parks department to terminate the contract with a Trump Organization affiliate to run a city-owned golf course in the Bronx after the company was convicted of tax fraud earlier this month.
The 20-year contract to operate the golf course in Throgs Neck has been held by Trump Ferry Point LLC since 2012. Now, Councilmember Shekar Krishnan is pointing to the fresh conviction of the Trump Organization on tax fraud charges as the final straw to sever ties with the tainted company.
“Public parkland should never be in the hands of a criminal enterprise like the Trump Organization,” said Krishan, who heads the Council’s parks committee. He called the latest convictions “another obvious and glaring reason to immediately terminate this license.”
Requests for comment to the Trump Organization were not answered.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to terminate the contract for the golf course last year, saying former President Donald Trump’s “criminal” role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol damaged the city’s ability to attract pro golf tournaments and is therefore grounds to exit the contract.
After the Trump Organization countersued, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled in April that the city had wrongfully terminated the agreement because no fraud was committed in service of the contract.
Mayor Eric Adams’ administration has made no move to cancel the contract because the early termination penalties could be costly. City Hall spokesperson Fabien Levy said the Trump Organization's conviction does not extend to affiliate companies, so there’s no legal basis for voiding the contract.
“Unfortunately, this verdict doesn’t change the fact that ending the contract we inherited would likely still require the city to pay up to tens of millions of dollars to the Trump affiliate running the golf course. We checked,” Levy said in a statement.
While ending the contract early would trigger financial penalties, the precise amount of that fee is in dispute, with Trump Organization lawyers claiming the city would be forced to pay $30 million.
Stephen Younger, a contract law expert and former head of the New York State Bar Association who testified at a September City Council hearing about the golf course contract, said there’s no evidence in the paperwork that the termination fee will be that much.
“The fee is intended to compensate the organization for the amount they invested in the property, minus what basically what they've recouped on that investment,” Younger said.
The city had already spent $127 million on constructing the golf course after years of delays and cost overruns while Younger found the Trump Organization affiliate spent between $9.75 million and $14.9 million on building a clubhouse and other capital costs once they were awarded the contract, according to documents.
Under those terms, any termination fee should be far less than $10 million, he said.
Krishnan said the idea that the termination fee would cost the city “tens of millions” of dollars is merely a talking point from the Trump family to intimidate the city. It’s up to the Adams administration to find a solution and “to fight in every possible way, using every possible argument to get out of this contract,” Krishnan added. “You don't simply repeat their false arguments about termination payments.”
Recent developments might now make for a stronger argument that the city is suffering from associating with the former president, Younger added, pointing to the House of Representatives’ Jan. 6 committee’s recommendation this week that the Department of Justice pursue criminal charges against Trump for insurrection.
“Now, given the recent events of a tax conviction and the Jan. 6 commission recommending charges including inciting a riot, you know, that could come out differently,” Younger said.
The golf course contract has been mired in controversy for years for its ties to the former president and the expansive tax breaks the Bloomberg administration conceded to the organization, which didn’t require payments to the city for the first four years of the contract.