Las Vegas Hotel Payments to Trump Scrutinized, Nevada Voter Poll Tightens

Posted on: October 13, 2020, 11:00h. 

Last updated on: October 14, 2020, 01:43h.

Conflicting versions have emerged around President Donald Trump getting approximately $21 million during 2016 from a Las Vegas hotel he co-owned with billionaire Phil Ruffin.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden are very close in a poll of Nevada voters released Tuesday
Donald Trump kisses Oleksandra Nikolayenko, wife of casino owner Phil Ruffin, left, at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2016. (Image: Andrew Harnik/AP)

In one version, Trump’s tax records show he earned more than $21 million during his successful Republican presidential run through payments to companies controlled by himself, The New York Times said. The story alleges Trump needed money as he self-financed his 2016 political campaign.

In contrast, White House spokesman Judd Deere blasted the report, calling it “another politically motivated hit piece inaccurately smearing a standard business deal.”

Trump’s business partner, Phil Ruffin, agreed with Deere the money was owed to Trump.

He can do whatever the hell he wants with it,” Ruffin told the Kansas City Star. “I don’t know what they’re trying to dig up, but they’re on the wrong track.”

Ruffin is a 50-50 percent partner in Trump Ruffin Commercial, LLC, which owns the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas. Donald Trump’s family business is the other partner in the hotel, which does not include a gaming floor. Ruffin purchased Treasure Island from MGM Resorts International in 2008. He acquired Circus Circus also from MGM.

Ruffin Is Donor to Trump Campaign

News about the 2016 payments comes as Trump and Democrat challenger former Vice President Joe Biden are very close in a new poll of Nevada voters released Tuesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In a survey of 512 likely Nevada voters between Oct. 7-11, 44 percent back Biden and 42 percent favor Trump. The poll’s margin of error is 4.4 percentage points.

Las Vegas casino owners and a prominent local union are actively involved in the presidential race. Las Vegas Sands billionaire Sheldon Adelson is prepared to contribute up to $50 million to help Trump win reelection.

Red Rock Resorts owners Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta III also are major donors to the Republican Party and to Trump. Ruffin also has contributed to the Trump campaign and other Republican causes in recent years. He gave $250,000 to the Republican National Committee in June 2017.

He donated about $100,000 to two political action committees supporting Trump’s reelection. Ruffin contributed more than $2.5 million to Trump’s campaign and inauguration, the Times reported. Unions, such as Nevada’s influential Culinary Union, have endorsed Biden.

Biden Leads Trump in General Election

Nationally, Trump continues to lag in polls, according to Real Clear Politics. One JTN/RMG Research poll released on Monday reports Biden leads Trump by a 51 to 43 percent margin. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Sunday showed Biden leading Trump by 55 to 43 percent.

The race was tighter in another recent poll. On Friday, a poll by The Hill/HarrisX showed Biden’s lead was 45 percent compared to Trump’s 40 percent.

Oddsmakers favor the Democratic Party to control the House, Senate, and presidency. As of Oct. 8, William Hill has Biden at 1/2 (implied odds 66.67 percent). Following the first Trump-Biden debate, the bookmaker had Biden at 8/13 (61.9 percent).

Trump is considered a long shot, with William Hill listing him at 13/8 (38.1 percent). Two weeks ago, his line was at 11/8 (42.1 percent).