Last summer, as Donald Trump was climbing to the top of Republican presidential polling, he told NBC News' Chuck Todd about his virtues as a candidate. "I don't have pollsters," Trump boasted
. "I don't want to waste money on pollsters."Less than a year later, the GOP candidate made a rather striking shift
in the opposite direction, hiring Tony Fabrizio, a veteran Republican pollster with extensive experience. But more than a year after Trump said he didn't want to pay for a pollster, the Washington Post reports
that the presidential hopeful may have meant that literally.
Donald Trump's hiring of pollster Tony Fabrizio in May was viewed as a sign that the real estate mogul was finally bringing seasoned operatives into his insurgent operation.But the Republican presidential nominee appears to have taken issue with some of the services provided by the veteran GOP strategist, who has advised candidates from 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole to Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The Trump campaign's latest Federal Election Commission report shows that it is disputing nearly $767,000 that Fabrizio's firm says it is still owed for polling.
If this problem -- Trump hires someone to do a job, then decides he doesn't want to pay for the completed services -- sounds at all familiar, it's not your imagination.We talked
a few months ago about Trump's bad habit of hiring working-class Americans -- mechanics, plumbers, painters, waiters, dishwashers, etc. -- who sent Trump bills for completed work, only to have the New York Republican refuse to pay for services rendered.USA Today reported
, "The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump's sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years. In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources. Some just give up the fight, or settle for less; some have ended up in bankruptcy or out of business altogether."Soon after, the Wall Street Journal
published a related report
, documenting the same problem. In some instances, Trump-owned businesses felt they had leverage over small businesses, so when bills came, Trump's enterprise would offer part of what was owed -- take it or leave it -- knowing that the small businesses couldn't afford to get tied up in a lengthy court fight.Though this angle to Trump's record never seemed to capture the political world's attention in earnest -- some Trump critics started calling him "Deadbeat Donald," though it never caught on -- the stories continued to pile up. Remember the guy who sold Trump $100,000 worth of pianos
?The Republican candidate's track record came up briefly
in the first presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
CLINTON: I have met a lot of the people who were stiffed by you and your businesses, Donald. I've met dishwashers, painters, architects, glass installers, marble installers, drapery installers, like my dad was, who you refused to pay when they finished the work that you asked them to do. We have an architect in the audience who designed one of your clubhouses at one of your golf courses. It's a beautiful facility. It immediately was put to use. And you wouldn't pay what the man needed to be paid, what he was charging you to do...TRUMP: Maybe he didn't do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work...CLINTON: Well, to...TRUMP: Which our country should do, too.CLINTON: Do the thousands of people that you have stiffed over the course of your business not deserve some kind of apology from someone who has taken their labor, taken the goods that they produced, and then refused to pay them?
Note that Trump was unapologetic about this, and said "our country should" behave as he has.In other words, Trump's pollster probably shouldn't expect payment anytime soon, and if Trump is elected president next week, any number of others around the world should expect similar problems over the next four years.