WASHINGTON -- I hope Donald Trump, the pompous, orange-complexioned host of "Celebrity Apprentice" runs for president because then we'll get a certified look at his income, investments and debts.But here's a Trump-like prediction, which is like the various pronouncements made by the real estate developer that aren't backed by any credible evidence. Trump will not run. He won't declare officially because the Ethics in Government Act requires candidates for federal office to file disclosures of their personal finances. The Office of Government Ethics recently released an advisory to potential presidential and vice presidential candidates clarifying the financial reporting requirements. Among other disclosures, candidates have to report income of $200 or more. They have to report assets -- income generating real property, stocks, bonds, mutual fund shares, commodity futures and other securities -- that exceed $1,000. And they would have to disclose liabilities that are over $10,000 owed to any creditor during the reporting period. They do not have to list a mortgage secured by a personal residence. Although the financial disclosure is used to identify potential conflicts of interest and is not a complete net worth statement, it still provides a good look at a candidate's financial holdings. No embellishing allowed. Candidates have to certify that the financial statements and attached schedules are true, complete and correct to the best of their knowledge.
Perhaps Trump has become a better businessman. Only his bankers really know for sure. As L. William Seidman, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said in an interview in 1992, "There's a great many people who operate on the theory that, 'If I borrow enough, the problem is the bank's, not mine.'" In a 1991 telephone conference call, Trump's lenders, who could have seized the Trump Castle casino and hotel in Atlantic City, joked about his management skills. A tape recording of the discussion was made available to The Washington Post. The bondholders, who had helped finance the casino, opted to save Trump but still criticized his business acumen. Warren Foss, an adviser to the casino bondholders, advocated allowing Trump to remain in charge of the project, paying him an annual $1.4 million management fee. "What is he providing for the million and a half?" one bondholder asked, prompting laughter. "We hope as little as possible," Foss said, to even more laughter. "We hope it becomes characterized as a nonmanagement fee." Rather than focus on how specifically he would balance the federal budget or spur growth in the economy, Trump has made more news claiming President Obama wasn't born a U.S. citizen. After the president released his long-form birth certificate Wednesday -- in hopes to turn the focus back on the serious financial crisis facing the nation -- Obama said, "We do not have time for this kind of silliness."