Fifteen years before Donald Trump began a presidential campaign based on racism and fear, he waged a similar campaign against a Native American tribe in New York.
In 2000, the St. Regis Mohawks Tribal Council announced plans to open a casino at a Catskills horse track but soon after their plans were made public, horribly racist ads began appearing on radio and in newspapers. The group responsible for the ads, New York Institute for Law and Society, was a new “grass-roots,” anti-gambling organization that claimed to be supported by 12,000 “pro-family” donors. They warned of “increased crime, broken families, bankruptcies and, in the case of the Mohawks, violence” if the tribe was allowed to open their casino.
Well, as it turns out, the 12,000 donors did not exist and the grass-roots group wasn’t grass-roots at all. The institute was run by Donald Trump’s longtime friend, consultant and lobbyist Roger Stone. Furthermore, the nearly one million dollars that was used to pay for the ads came from Donald Trump, who, according to documents uncovered by the Los Angeles Times, personally approved the racist strategy used to target the Mohawks because he didn’t want the tribe competing with his Atlantic casinos (the ones he bankrupted).
When Stone hired private investigators to dig up dirt on the Mohawks, Trump secretly paid the bills.
“Roger – This could be good!” Trump scrawled across one ad that included a picture of hypodermic needles and lines of powder meant to depict cocaine, underneath the headline: “Drug Dealing at Monticello?,” the name of the track. The ad ran in Catskills newspapers, credited to the institute.
However, even though Trump was blatantly involved in the smear campaign, nobody knew about it until the New York Temporary Commission on Lobbying began investigating. When the agency discovered that Stone was purposefully hiding Trump’s involvement, Trump was fined $250,000 and forced to put out $50,000 worth of apology ads stating,“[We] apologize if anyone was misled concerning the production and funding of the lobbying effort paid for by Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts.”
The Mohawk Tribe was not placated by Trump’s bullshit apologies, though. Mohawk lawyer Brad Waterman said:
Those ads were about as racist as you can get. You can’t attach too much value to the apology when it’s compelled. It’s not like he’s seen Jesus, or anything.
Indeed. The only reason the racist billionaire apologized was because he was forced to. What’s worse is that he didn’t even say he was sorry for the tone and overtures of the ads, he was just sorry that people found out he was responsible for them.
What this proves is that Trump has always been a racist who will use fear mongering to mislead people to get what he wants. He did it when competition popped up for his casinos and he is doing it today as he runs for president. This is not the kind of person we want running this country.
Featured image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images