MIAMI -- Not that he needs it, but Donald Trump is getting a check for $22,718 from Miami-Dade County.
The money amounted to a refund on a $25,000 deposit Trump’s organization filed last year when he launched an effort to take over management of the county’s Crandon Park golf course. Trump withdrew the plan May 1 after facing resistance from county commissioners, marking one his last deal-making episodes before jumping into the 2016 presidential campaign in June.
For a celebrity mogul whose reported worth tops $10 billion, a $25,000 deposit doesn’t exactly tie up a significant amount of cash. According to financial reports he provided as part of his presidential run, Trump earned $362 million in 2014. It would have taken him about 33 minutes to make the $22,718.63 that Miami-Dade paid to Trump Golf Acquisitions LLC.
Trump’s Crandon bid began when he played golf there with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez in the fall of 2013. Gimenez rebuffed Trump’s interest in buying the waterfront course but said a management deal was a possibility, according to a summary compiled by the county’s ethics board.
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On July 1, 2014, Trump filed a 10-page proposal laying out his vision for Crandon. He offered a $10 million renovation of the course in exchange for a 99-year management deal that would preserve it as a public park but give Trump’s organization control of operations and tee times at a facility that posted a loss of $360,000 in 2014.
Crandon loyalists questioned why the well-regarded public course needed a rescue from the owner of a chain of golf resorts known for five-star prices.
Trump’s proposal was considered “unsolicited,” though Trump exchanged letters with Gimenez about it and dispatched a top aide, Ed Russo, to meet with the mayor and his staff in early 2014. To have his proposal considered, Trump first had to pay Miami-Dade $25,000 to cover any costs expended in the review.
On Aug. 8, the county Parks Department sent Trump a letter saying “direct costs in evaluating the unsolicited proposal amounted to $2,281.39, consisting of County staff time in reviewing the proposal.” Parks released the letter this week.
Local blogger Al Crespo filed an ethics complaint over Trump and Russo not registering as lobbyists while they pursued a potential deal. Miami-Dade’s Ethics Commission cleared Trump and Gimenez of any missteps connected to their golf game and exchange of letters, but said Russo should have registered before his meeting in January 2014 with Gimenez and aides.
Though filed in the summer of 2014, Trump’s Crandon proposal did not become public until the Miami Herald reported its existence in February. Gimenez recused himself from the matter in writing the next day, citing lobbying work one of his sons, C.J. Gimenez, performed for Trump in non-county matters.
Russo, who headed Trump’s Crandon efforts, said Tuesday he’s hoping Miami-Dade will eventually open Crandon up to bid from private operators through a formal request for proposals. “I have to say that it is such a significant net gain for the county and the players in terms of fiscal impacts and environmental improvements that we may consider responding to an RFP when that occurs,” he said.