In July The Trump Organization opened a luxury 18-hole gulf course off the Northeastern coast of Scotland on land once protected for its rare and disappearing sand dunes. The championship course was slated to be one of two courses and one small part of a larger $1.5 billion luxury project, including 500 million-dollar homes, 950 holiday apartments, a 450-room hotel, 36 golf villas, a 400-bed workers' hostel, a conference center and a clubhouse.
A documentary by a pair of local Scottish filmmakers about Trump's quest to build on the environmentally endangered land hits theaters this week in New York and Los Angeles. The film details how Donald Trump and Co. failed to deliver on all but one of his proposals, pushed life-time locals from their land and destroyed one of Europe's most cherished coasts — which has been described by one leading scientist as "Scotland's Amazon rain forest."
The award-winning film by Anthony Baxter is "You've Been Trumped." The film debuted in Europe in 2011 and has won numerous awards at independent film festivals. The film does not present a flattering view of Mr. Trump.
"What we have here is a golf course built on a site of special scientific interest, which is the highest accolade that our country can bestow to a supposedly protected site," Baxter tells The Daily Ticker's Aaron Task in the accompanying interview. But Mr. Trump insists that the project is supported by "the business community and the political leadership."
How could the local government and environmentalists allow that to happen?
They didn't. In fact, the local planning committee in Aberdeen rejected Trump's proposal in 2007. But later that same year, the powers that be in the Scottish Government overruled that decision in favor of the nation's economic interests. Trump promised his billion-dollar investment would create 6,000 jobs in Aberdeen -- a city that already has one of Scotland's lowest rates of unemployment.
To date, Baxter says less than one hundred jobs have been added. He cites a job fair held in May to recruit just 50 people as evidence. Mr. Trump on the other hand says "hundreds of people were employed planting grass." But Baxter refutes this and says an Irish contractor was hired to lay the grass for the course.
All the people featured in the documentary have fought to remain in their homes despite Mr. Trump's efforts to displace them.
"But the landscape around them has changed dramatically," says Baxter. "Things such as, big banks of earth being built next to their house because Donald Trump does not want to see their houses from the golf course, or his golfers."
One homeowner told Baxter she now feels like a prisoner in her own home because she can no longer see her beautiful view of the North Sea.
During construction of the golf course, these residents were faced with accidental water and power outages, land disputes and other inconveniences that went unnoticed (or purposefully ignored) by the local authorities, Baxter says.
Baxter and his producer were arrested, jailed and charged criminally for "breach of peace" after questioning utility workers about the outages. The filmmaker, who has produced and shot documentaries in several African nations and Afghanistan, has never been arrested in all his years of reporting until the Aberdeen incident. The criminal offense has since been thrown out.
The Daily Ticker reached out to the Trump Organization for a comment. A spokesperson for the company told us this film was old news and a non-story. What follows is their response, which has remained unchanged since the documentary's premier last year.
"Anthony Baxter's film is a complete fraud and a gross misrepresentation of the facts. Our project in Aberdeenshire, Scotland is widely supported by the local people, the business community and the political leadership. This film only presents the myopic views of a very small fringe element that are not respected and are widely regarded as a national embarrassment for Scotland. During these challenging economic times, our project has employed hundreds, provided tens of millions in investment for the region and will serve as an anchor for future economic growth and tourism. Our work on the championship golf course has been applauded by both the Ecological Clerk of Works and the Menie Environmental Management Advisory Group, whose membership represents Scotland's leading environmental protection groups. Mr. Baxter is not a credible source of information and it's widely known that he breached US copyright laws to produce this film, which is nothing more than a feeble attempt to make money by exploiting the Trump name."
--George Sorial, EVP and Counsel of The Trump Organization.
The point of the film was not money, says Baxter, but rather to give a voice to the local people and the environment. He also says it's very important for journalists today to make sure people in power and with money are held accountable for their actions.
As of now, the Trump Organization has halted future plans for the project. The construction of the hotel has been put on hold due to a wind farm that is set to be built in the water off the coast — another "eye sore" for Trump and his golfers.
"You've Been Trumped" hits U.S. theaters in New York and Los Angeles Aug. 3.