Is this an example of throwing the kitchen sink or just something that the candidates will need to do to survive?
Ted Cruz was making the rounds of the morning shows today, getting his last minute pitches in before Super Tuesday and focusing his fire on current frontrunner Donald Trump. Many of the attacks are already familiar to all of us, but Cruz dipped into the golden oldies file when he made one particularly awkward assertion. As Tom Elliott at National Review reports, the Texas Senator raised questions of Trump’s ties to, er… “organized labor” of a different kind.
Donald Trump may be reluctant to release his tax returns because they’ll reveal “dealings with the mob,” Sen. Ted Cruz said today.
“It’s natural to wonder, well, what is it that he’s hiding in his taxes?” Cruz told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press. ”Maybe it’s that Donald Trump doesn’t earn nearly as much as he has so loudly told everyone. … Maybe it’s the case that Mitt Romney is richer than Donald Trump.”
“Maybe it’s the case that Donald — there have been multiple media reports about Donald’s business dealings with the mob, with the mafia — maybe his taxes show those business dealings are a lot more extensive than has been reported, regardless of what the bombshell is,” Cruz said.
Elliott goes on to point out that Trump was previously known to have done business with S & A Construction, at one time under the stewardship of “Fat Tony” Salerno. (A rather unfair characterization, don’t you think? I mean, just because the guy has a weight problem that’s no reason to be casting aspersions. Ahem.) This apparently wasn’t a one off comment, but rather a planned strategy on Cruz’s part. He repeated the same theme on ABC’s This Week.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) February 28, 2016
For those who are new to the game, these stories aren’t exactly fresh material. Last year, when Trump was first busting into the GOP primary like a bull in a china shop, CNN ran an extensive retrospective of these allegations.
“The mob connections of Donald are extraordinarily extensive,” New York investigative journalist Wayne Barrett told CNN in an interview.
Barrett, the author of the 1992 unauthorized biography “Trump: The Deals and the Downfall,” wrote that Trump’s life “intertwines with the underworld.”
The allegations are getting new scrutiny as Trump runs for president, largely on his record as a successful, and extraordinarily wealthy, businessman. As Trump cements his leads atop the polls, questions about how he made his billions, and who helped him make them, are starting to take center stage.
CNN’s claim that the stories were “starting to take center stage” certainly didn’t play out last summer. After a couple of quick hits the mafia tales faded from public view, and of course the other candidates were far too polite to bring them up on the trail or at debates… until now, anyway.
So are these stories true? Assuming we’re operating under the assumption that the mafia is a real thing (which of course I’m not doing at all in any shape, form or fashion… we cool, guys?) then there’s little reason to doubt it. I’m old enough to remember the reality of growing up in New York (and New Jersey) during that era and it was tough to find anyone who wasn’t doing some business with aspects of the major families either directly or indirectly. They had their hands into everything, particularly all matters involving the labor unions. You couldn’t get anything built without somebody getting paid. If you think Trump is alone in that boat you don’t know much about the rest of the politicians in that part of the country, particularly the Democrats. (But the GOP was far from immune also.) The remains of Tammany Hall were with us for a long time.
If the voters want to take that into account about Trump, it’s a fair cop. But those making the accusations should be certain they can document the specific ties they choose to reference. And while they’re at it, they might want to make sure there are no business deals in their own families back in the day which might merit a look. Of course, all of this rests on your believing in the existence of the Italian Mafia which, of course, I don’t. Not one bit. Italian-Americans have long been an unfairly characterized, hard working group of wonderful people. (We still cool, guys?)