Electrical Contractor Suing Trump Hotel for Unpaid $2 Million Bill
Vehicles participating in an inaugural parade rehearsal pass by the Trump Internationa Hotel, January 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. On January 20 President-elect Donald Trump with be sworn in as the nation's 45th president.Mark Wilson / Getty Images
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A Maryland-based electrical contractor claims they worked “nonstop” to get President Trump’s new Washington hotel ready in time for a televised campaign stop in September — and then got stiffed on the bill.
AES Electrical, which is also known as Freestate Electrical, has filed suit in Washington D.C.'s Superior Court to recoup the $2,075,731.61 it claims it is still owed for helping turn the Old Post Office into the luxury Trump International Hotel.
In addition to the Trump Organization, it names Trump’s contractor, Lend Lease of New York, in the suit.
Freestate states in court papers that it began working on the project on Sept. 29, 2014 and was ordered to “accelerate work” last fall.
The reason? “To permit Mr. Trump’s nationally televised campaign event from the Hotel on September 16, 2016, which was to honor U.S. veterans,” the papers state.
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Also, the Trump hotel had already started booking “paid events” and rooms for a “soft opening” on Sept. 12.
To get the work done on time, the company claims, “required Freestate’s crews to work nonstop, seven days per week, 10 to 14 hours per day, for nearly 50 consecutive days, prior to the ‘soft opening,’ at significant additional cost and expense for which Freestate expected payment.”
Freestate claims it continued to work at the same pace to ensure the hotel was ready for its “grand opening” on Oct. 26.
“The ‘grand opening’ of the Trump Hotel by this day, was also a nationally covered event, which was planned just prior to the U.S. presidential election,” the suit states. “Although Mr. Trump’s Hotel has now been opened and has operated for business since September 2016, and despite the fact that Mr. Trump was successfully elected as the next U.S. President, Trump refuses to pay the sums due for the account of work of subcontractors, like Freestate.”
Freestate, which states in the suit that it has thus far been paid $15,130,267.39, said that when it submitted the bill for the extra costs, the Trump organization offered to pay just a third of the bill.
A spokesman for Freestate, which employs union electricians, did not immediately return a phone call from NBC to elaborate on the lawsuit, which was filed last Thursday — a day before Trump’s inauguration.
A spokesperson for the Trump Organization responded to the lawsuit with the following statement:
“In developments of this scale and complexity the filing of nominal liens at the conclusion of construction is not uncommon as part of the close out process. In the case of Trump International Hotel, Washington D.C., the Trump Organization has invested over $200 million dollars into the redevelopment of the historic Old Post Office and is incredibly proud of what is now considered to be one the most iconic hotels anywhere in the country.”
The White House insists that Trump himself has divested himself from his companies and has turned over management of his empire to his sons.
This is not the first time the Trump organization has been accused of pressuring contractors to accept reduced payments on projects — or flat out failing to pay workers what they are owed.
USA Today and other news organizations have reported that Trump and his companies have been hit with more than 3,500 lawsuits for non-payment of bills or wages over the past three decades. Also, Trump companies have been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005, the paper reported.
Perhaps the most infamous example were the undocumented Polish workers who were hired to build Trump’s glitzy home, Trump Tower in Manhattan. They went on strike when they weren’t paid, triggering a multi-year legal battle that ended with a settlement.
Trump denied doing anything wrong, and the Polish workers never got a nickel from the settlement.
Ari Melber is chief legal correspondent for MSNBC and host of "The Beat with Ari Melber."
Corky Siemaszko is a senior writer for NBC News Digital.