Trump’s Hidden Debt, Cárdenas’ Lengthy-Operating Authorized Belief

Today we uncover a hidden debt of Donald Trump’s, hear from one of crypto’s biggest backers in Congress talk about receiving a donation from FTX, dig into a House Democrat’s legal trust and learn why Ted Cruz’s campaign paid $1,600 to Really Big Coloring Books, Inc.

Trump Owed Hidden Debt While In Office

“Donald Trump’s business attracted so much scrutiny during his time in office that it would be easy to conclude that all information about its foreign entanglements must be out by now. It is not,” reports Dan Alexander.

Buried in a heap of recently released financial paperwork sits a surprising revelation: Donald Trump had a foreign creditor he failed to disclose while running for president in 2016 and after assuming office in 2017.

The documents, compiled by the Trump Organization and obtained by the New York attorney general, show a previously unreported liability of $19.8 million listed as “L/P Daewoo.” The debt stems from an agreement Trump struck to share some of his licensing fees with Daewoo, a South Korean conglomerate that partnered with Trump on a project near the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Trump eliminated the debt five and a half months into his tenure as president, according to the documents. He seems to have acted with some urgency to wipe the liability off his balance sheet. From 2011 to 2016, the documents show that the balance stayed static at $19.8 million. Paperwork capturing Trump’s financial picture as of June 30, 2017, five months into his presidency, appears to show that the balance had dropped to $4.3 million, $15.5 million less than it had been a year earlier. Trump got rid of the debt altogether shortly after that. “Daewoo was bought out of its position on July 5, 2017,” the documents say, without specifying who exactly paid off the loan.

Keeping an eye out: Former President Donald Trump arrives to speak at an event at Mar-a-Lago, Nov. 18 in Palm Beach, Florida.

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Welcome To The Latest Issue Of Checks & Imbalances

This is the web edition of the Checks & Imbalances newsletter, usually sent to inboxes Tuesdays and Fridays. It’s free. To make sure you don’t miss an issue, subscribe.

Please support this work, if you can, by subscribing to Forbes. Any tips or suggestions? Email me at [email protected] or call/SMS/Signal 202.804.2744. Follow me on Mastodon at @[email protected]. Thanks!

In Case You Missed It

Watch: Lummis Reveals FTX Donation, Says It Did Not Come From Bankman-Fried

Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) sat down with Hot Wallet host Rosemarie Miller to discuss the FTX collapse and a donation she found from the fallen company.

Lummis has been one of the few faces in Washington advocating for crypto regulation as she and Senator Kristen Gillibrand (DN.Y.) have the most comprehensive crypto regulation bill to date — the Responsible Financial Innovation Act. In Monday’s episode, Lummis goes into detail about Washington’s reaction to FTX and the state of crypto regulation.

Continuing Irresolutions

Updates on Checks & Imbalances’ previous reporting

After the Senate election in Georgia moved to a runoff, the anti-abortion Women Speak Out PAC, pledged to spend another $1 million backing Republican Herschel Walker. With voting ending today, the PAC has spent just $215,000. Spokespeople for the PAC did not immediately respond to inquiries.

Anti-abortion groups have now spent at least $1.3 million in support of Walker since allegations surfaced in October that he had encouraged and paid for his girlfriend to get an abortion.

Rep. Tony Cárdenas Shutters Legal Expense Fund Three Years After Lawsuit Was Dropped

Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) terminated his legal expense trust in July, three years after a judge dismissed the lawsuit the California Democrat was fighting.

In May 2018, Cárdenas disclosed that he was the defendant in a suit that alleged he had sexually abused a 16-year-old girl. Three months later, he opened a legal expense trust to help fund his defense In July 2019, Cárdenas’ accuser dropped her suit, and the judge dismissed it with prejudice, meaning she cannot file it again.

Cárdenas’ trust reported spending approximately $643,000, 70% of which was disbursed after the case was dropped, according to disclosures filed with the House Clerk’s office. Similarly, about 70% of the $647,000 in total contributions to Cárdenas’ defense fund received came after July 2019, with its biggest quarterly haul, $149,000, coming in the first three months of 2022.

The flurry of recent activity was because Cárdenas had requested an extension to pay his legal bills and was about to start having to pay interest on the outstanding balance, according to a spokesperson. Of the $390,000 that Cárdenas’ trust paid the law firm representing him, $350,000 of it went out after the case was dropped.

San Fernando, CA – October 04: US Congressman Tony Cardenas speaks during the San Fernando Police Department’s Annual National Night Out event in San Fernando Tuesday, October 4, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images )

Media News Group via Getty Images

Only One Person Comes To Madison Cawthorn’s Defense

Outgoing Rep. Madison Cawthorn (RN.C.) launched a legal expense trust in February to cover costs incurred fighting a challenge to his qualifications to appear on the ballot. Through June 30, disclosures with the House Clerk’s office show the fund had received one donation of $5,000.

You’re Terminated

On Nov. 21, the Federal Election Commission disclosed that it intends to terminate three PACs ostensibly associated with advancing the interests of diaspora groups in the United States. The National Association of Pakistani Americans registered with the FEC in August 2019 but never made another filing. The Haitian Diaspora Political Action Committee filed its statement of organization in May 201 but also disappeared after that. The Armenian Republican Association had a bit more activity—after launching in June 2020, it received $10 in contributions, which it never spent.

Watch: Ted Cruz’s podcast Deal May Violate Ethics Laws

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX ) may have violated a federal law barring senators from receiving gifts from registered lobbyists when he accepted podcast production services from iHeartMedia, according to a complaint that government watchdog Campaign Legal Center filed with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics on Wednesday. Your correspondent joined Brittany Lewis in Forbes Newsroom to discuss.

The Book Report

The campaign for Sen. Ted Cruz paid $1,600 to Really Big Coloring Books, Inc. of St. Louis in May. The expenditure was not for the giant version of “Antiracist Baby” that the Texas Republican referenced during Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing, according to a spokesperson, but rather it was for pocket-sized constitutions to distribute at the Texas GOP convention.


On Monday, Disarm the Deep State filed its latest campaign finance report, six weeks after it was due. The super PAC was launched by Jim Watkins, the owner of 8kun, a message board that is the hub of QAnon activity. Disarm the Deep State disclosed no contributions or disbursements during the reporting period, which was the first 19 days of October. It has $5,300 on hand.


The Hawaii Republican Party agreed to pay a $60,000 fine to the FEC in October for failing to properly report $3.1 million in contributions and expenditures, the FEC said on Friday.

Tracking Trump

“Former President Donald Trump reversed course Monday after calling for the ‘termination’ of parts of the Constitution over the weekend, following a wave of Republican backlash, insisting in a series of Truth Social posts the ‘fake news media’ had misinterpreted his suggestion that election rules should be scrapped so he can return to office,” reports Sara Dorn.


In November, Rebuilding America Now asked the FEC a second time if it could terminate. The pro-Trump super PAC, founded in 2016 and linked to Paul Manafort and Trump business associate Tom Barrack, had a troubled existence. Robert Mueller’s investigation of uncovered evidence of potential kickback schemes. A one-time treasurer of the super PAC also misappropriated $278,000.


Trump’s campaign changed its name on Monday, adding “Inc.” to the end of Donald J. Trump for President 2024.


Kari Lake returned to Mar-a-Lago this week. The Arizona Republican, who lost her gubernatorial run, was headlining a fundraiser for Moms for America, a conservative nonprofit.



  • “Trump’s committee paying for lawyers of key Mar-a-Lago witnesses” (The Washington Post)
  • “What’s at stake as Trump Org. trial deliberations continue” (Associated Press)
  • “Donald Trump’s Lawyers Might Have Made a Huge Mistake” (Mother Jones)
  • “[Dec. 1] at Mar-a-Lago, a gala featuring speeches from Trump, Thu. Jr, Kari Lake, Gen Flynn. Photos w/ Trump available for $50,000. This was a for-profit business NOT a campaign fundraiser.” (Twitter/Isaac Arnsdorf of The Washington Post)
  • “PGA Tour taps top Kevin McCarthy confidant in LIV fight” (Axios)

Editor’s picks

  • “Biden administration approved offshore oil project following company’s lobbying push” (OpenSecrets)
  • “Kamala Harris spoke this week at an event organized in conjunction with the fall gathering of the Democracy Alliance, a secretive group of major liberal donors.” (Twitter/Ken Vogel of the New York Times)
  • “Which Biden donors scored invites to the state dinner” (Politico)
  • “Haley, Pence and other potential ’24 candidates buff up their dark money groups” (Politico)
  • “GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw Fined by FEC for Failing to Return Illegal Cash” (The Daily Beast)
  • “Washington lawmakers hold on to crypto holdings despite calls for new laws in wake of FTX collapse” (CNBC)
  • “Cyberthieves stole $186,000 from a Republican member of Congress as fraud epidemic plagues political committees” (Insider)

In Closing

The street’s alive as secret debts are paid

Contacts made, they flash unseen

— Bruce Springsteen, “Jungleland”

Comments are closed.