Donald Trump: “The value of what I did was far greater than the money talked about.” (via Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has relied on his reputation as a smart New York businessman to propel his campaign. However, a member of Congress is taking exception to a business move Trump made after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler is a Democrat from New York’s 10th District, which includes parts of lower Manhattan. On Thursday, Nadler published an open letter in which he asked Trump, “When do you plan on returning the taxpayer money that was designated to ease the suffering of our city’s small business owners?”

Nadler is referring to Trump’s participation in a government program intended to help small businesses that suffered because of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The New York Daily News explained earlier this month:

The self-proclaimed billionaire, who has so far refused to release his tax returns, was one of many wealthy individuals and businesses who used a loophole in a program intended to help smaller companies in lower Manhattan recover after the Sept. 11 tragedy.

Trump got $150,000 for his swanky property at 40 Wall Street because the Empire State Development Corporation, run by the state, didn’t enforce federal guidelines on what defines a small business. Instead, the state used much looser rules that let The Donald and others including Morgan Stanley and Bank of China take money that was earmarked by Congress to help small business owners in the neighborhood recover after the tragic attacks, a 2006 Daily News expose found.

Nadler condemns Trump’s use of this loophole, writing, “In grabbing that money with both fists, you took it out of the pockets of small business owners in New York who were truly hurting, and prevented them from taking full advantage of the relief so generously offered by their fellow citizens.”

Trump, Nadler writes, then “told a TV reporter that none of your properties were affected by the attacks.” Nadler explains what he believes Trump should do to make up for the presidential candidate’s “exploitation”:

I speak for New York’s 10th Congressional District – which includes the site of the Twin Towers and your skyscraper at 40 Wall Street – and all of its citizens and business owners, and as one of the lead authors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, helping the real victims and heroes who continue to suffer from those devastating attacks, when I make the following demand: Return the funds you received or donate them to a charitable organization dedicated to providing legitimate support for the victims of 9/11. …

Whatever the size of your business, we need no further proof that you are a small man.

The New York Times reports that Trump responded to Nadler’s letter by stating, “For many months, I allowed people to stay in the building, use the building and store things in the building. … I was happy to do it and to this day I am still being thanked for the many people I helped. The value of what I did was far greater than the money talked about.”

Nadler has not yet remarked on Trump’s response.

—Posted by Emma Niles

Your support matters…

Independent journalism is under threat and overshadowed by heavily funded mainstream media.

You can help level the playing field. Become a member.

Your tax-deductible contribution keeps us digging beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that unearths what's really happening- without compromise.

Give today to support our courageous, independent journalists.