I was sitting in my office when the phone rang with the caller ID of “Trump Org.” “Oh no,” I thought. “It can’t be.” Ever since my book Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust came out in September, weird things had happened. But hearing from Donald Trump’s organization was among the most bizarre.
In my book, I had recounted an amusing interaction with the New York billionaire. In 2012, I had been asked for a press comment about Trump speaking at the GOP convention. Tongue in cheek, I had replied that Republicans should send him on an all-expenses-paid trip around the world because if he spoke at the convention, he would bring the party nothing but trouble. The morning my quote was published, I got a phone call from Trump’s assistant. She asked for my email address, and after I gave it to her, she sent me a missive from the billionaire himself. He had pasted my comment about him into the body of the email and written in big, black, bold letters, “Darrell, You are a ‘fool’. Best wishes, Donald J. Trump.”
When the book came out, it generated no immediate response from the New York billionaire. But after I published a Political Power Index at that ranked Trump No. 23 on the list of wealthy individuals who had influenced the 2014 elections, his top executive called, complaining that his boss deserved a much better rating. How was the list devised, he asked? What criteria went into its compilation? As I explained that the rating was based on campaign contributions, issue advocacy, grassroots funding, and endorsements, among other things, this individual argued that my ranking of his CEO was way too low.