Icahn Says He’ll Sell Trump Taj Mahal
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn wants to wash his hands of the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City.
On Monday, he announced plans to sell the shuttered casino resort. In a statement on his website, the special adviser to President Trump — the casino’s former owner — says he won’t invest the $100 to $200 million the casino needs to reboot.
Why this decision? Icahn is pointing the finger at a New Jersey bill and its sponsor — state Senate president Steve Sweeney. The bill, which has now been vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie, would have penalized Icahn by divesting him of his casino license for five years.
The legislation, passed last December, would have prevented a casino from shutting down temporarily only to reopen soon after with reduced benefits for workers. The Taj closed in October 2016 after Icahn failed to draw up a new contract with union employees who protested allegedly low wages and poor health benefits and working conditions.
Back then, Icahn blamed the UNITE HERE union for the closure, and now he’s railing against what he deems to be an irresponsible legislature. “A wise man once told me that the combination of power and irresponsibility in any person is extremely dangerous. Sweeney is quintessential proof of that statement’s truth,” he wrote on his website.
Christie’s veto of Sweeney’s bill and his statement about it is spot on. For my further thoughts, see here. https://t.co/7383L27FCc
— Carl Icahn (@Carl_C_Icahn) February 6, 2017
In his veto letter, Christie essentially concurred, calling the bill “Legislature at its worst” and saying that it’s a transparent attempt to punish Icahn for making a business decision.
He pulled out the “anti-business” argument, too: “This bill sends a chilling signal to businesses in New Jersey, and those thinking of relocating here, they must ‘play ball’ with the unions or face retaliation by the Legislature,” he said.
And there may be more at play here. Sweeney wants citizens to be clear about Icahn’s connection to President Trump and his influence in New Jersey by extension. In a response to Icahn, he said, “We don’t want to have the policies and practices of President Trump and Carl Icahn used to strip away fair wages and benefits for working people in Atlantic City or anywhere else in New Jersey.”
No potential buyer for the property has been announced, the Press of Atlantic City reports.
Icahn will mostly likely sell the property at a loss. The business magnate says he suspects that investors won’t want to invest in New Jersey as long as Sweeney’s in control of the senate.
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