KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Documents from Donald Trump’s aborted 1999 attempt to buy a Kansas City casino are locked away by the Missouri Gaming Commission in Jefferson City, but because Trump eventually withdrew his application for a gaming license, nobody gets to see them.
State officials have estimated that the file in Trump’s bid for the Hilton Flamingo Casino — now the Isle of Capri — consists of more than 1,000 pages. Various news outlets, including The Associated Press, have unsuccessfully tried to get copies, as has the Democratic National Committee.
But politicians, reporters and the public are out of luck if they want to see what the state found out about the Republican presidential nominee 18 years ago when it was trying to determine if he qualified for a Missouri gaming license, the Hale Center for Journalism (http://bit.ly/2dgkvsH) reported.
Those files are protected from public scrutiny under Missouri law because Trump’s company withdrew its license application on Nov. 17, 1999, eight months after applying. A Missouri Gaming Commission attorney said the files are closed because the state never took formal action on the license application.
Trump offered $15 million in January 1999 for the Hilton Flamingo casino, which is near what is now the Bond Bridge. Around that time federal financial regulators charged his company with deceptive accounting practices that “recklessly” misled shareholders.
Hilton was mired in a bribery scandal and wanted out of town quickly, and although it had paid $100 million to build the casino a few years earlier, it was ready to accept Trump’s offer.
Hilton was accused of bribing Kansas City Port Authority Chairman Elbert Anderson in exchange for his support to build the casino on city-owned land along the Missouri River. Hilton ended up surrendering its state gaming license and buying its way out of a federal criminal prosecution by paying $650,000 in fines.
The Kansas City Port Authority approved the Trump deal for the casino, on June 14, 1999 — Trump’s 53rd birthday — but he still needed a gaming license for which he had applied months earlier.
During a March 24, 1999, meeting, Gaming Commission executive director Mel Fisher told commissioners the Trump investigation had bogged down because Trump had failed to submit information the staff requested.
Hilton Flamingo Casino sold to another buyer in September 1999 for $22.5 million and Trump withdrew his Missouri license application a month later.