People are quietly/secretly buying condos and other stuff from Trump for unknown reasons, and much of the activity is centered “in Nevada, where rules let anyone form companies without identifying the owners,” reports a USA Today investigation.
China trademark approvals, diplomats and lobbyists renting suites and banquet rooms at Trump’s D.C. hotel, administration officials and military brass trotted out as party favors for Mar-A-Lago’s paying guests … examples of Trump leveraging the presidency for personal profit are as endless as the willingness of congressional Republicans to pretend the corruption doesn’t exist.
Nevada’s complicity in Trump’s sleazy modus operandi is predictable. Nevada has gained enormous ground on Delaware, with Wyoming also in the mix, in the race to the ethical bottom to see which state can be most friendly to sketchy shell businesses seeking tax-free secrecy. More than 1,000 outfits with Nevada headquarters, or at least a Nevada P.O. box, were set up to facilitate the financial shenanigans unearthed in the Panama Papers. (Would it be a surprise to discover a large portion of Putin’s stolen wealth has made its way to companies registered with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office? No. But it would be a surprise if it hasn’t.)
State officials gush about Apple’s data center in Reno, contending it reflects, as Brian Sandoval likes to say, the “new Nevada.” Meantime, in the real Nevada, the economic activity at a warehouse full of component racks is dwarfed by the billions in Apple profits that are sheltered from taxes in Nevada, including a substantial portion of tax-free money Apple uses to further enrich itself from taxpayers by purchasing U.S. bonds.
The developed world’s democracies feverishly practicing market economics have been putting business ahead of people for ages, especially during the conservative ascendancy of the last 40 years. Nevada isn’t as unique as it likes to think.
Yet Nevada brings a distinct flavor spike to its market worship. Nevada and Nevadans have long rewarded and harbored a perverse admiration for those who use the system to enrich themselves: Arguably the highest compliment paid to a Nevadan is to say they’ve got “juice.”
So Nevada is a vortex for people — countries, corporations, whatever — wanting to secretly purchase favor with Trump by purchasing condos from Trump? Of course it is. Rarely have a state and a president been so well-suited to one another.