WASHINGTON (CN) – Electricians who got President Donald Trump’s new hotel in Washington, D.C., ready for a soft opening before the election claim in court that Trump stiffed them on the $2 million tab.
Built at a historic downtown property formerly known as the Old Post Office, the Trump International Hotel had been in the works for roughly two years when the Republican nominee ramped up construction to have the hotel ready for a Sept. 16 campaign event honoring veterans.
The private event was quickly overshadowed by renewed attention on Trump’s longtime championship of “birtherism” – a racially motivated conspiracy theory that sought to delegitimize President Barack Obama with false claims that he was born in Kenya.
In his first public reversal of that position, Trump blamed Hillary Clinton without evidence for starting the “birther movement.”
Trump went on to win the election, and host a grand opening for the hotel, but Freestate Electrical Construction Co., of Laurel, Md., says now it is still waiting to be aid.
“Although Mr. Trump’s hotel has now 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,” the complaint states, filed on Jan. 23 in D.C. Superior Court.
Freestate claims it had to have employees work “nonstop, seven days per week,” for nearly two months to prepare fire alarms and other electrical systems for the hotel’s soft opening.
Trump Old Post Office LLC operates the hotel but refuses to pay, allegedly saying it never approved the additional work.
Freestate also claims Trump Old Post Office has held “hostage” a portion of its contract that was set aside until the project was completed, promising to release the money if Freestate accepts the hotel’s offer to pay just one-third of the cost of the additional work Freestate performed.
“Upon information and belief, Trump’s actions in refusing to pay for work performed, after a project has opened, is a repeated practice of the Trump organizations on various projects, evidencing a typical business practice meant to force subcontractors to accept ‘pennies on the dollar’ with respect to amounts owed for the cost of the work performed,” the complaint states.
Freestate says the accelerated work was demanded to get the hotel ready for its soft opening, for which Trump had already booked guests and paid events.
The allegations echo examples that cropped up during the campaign of Trump’s companies leaving countless other contractors in the lurch, refusing to pay for services rendered.
Freestate seeks a $2 million mechanic’s lien on Trump’s hotel and requests that the court order Trump Old Post Office to sell its interest in the property and give some of the proceeds to Freestate to satisfy its lien.
A representative for Trump Old Post Office did not respond to an emailed request for comment on Thursday.
Freestate is represented by Nicole Campbell of Huddles Jones in Columbia, Md. Campbell did not respond to a phone message requesting comment on the case.