Former President Trump may soon start to wish he’d never wrangled with Jon Bon Jovi over football.
That’s because their 2014 battle to buy the Buffalo Bills helped set the stage for the New York attorney general’s investigation of Trump’s company. That probe is now showing signs of heating up, and it’s expanded well beyond Trump’s attempt to own the NFL team.
The AG’s office recently gathered personal financial records of the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, the Washington Post reported last week, to see whether Trump’s company inflated its assets while attempting to score loans or insurance contracts, or deflated them when it came time to pay taxes. Trump and the Trump Organization deny any wrongdoing and claim that AG Letitia James is just running a witch hunt.
The probe started after Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, testified in 2019 that Trump provided Deutsche Bank with an inflated financial statement while seeking a loan for his failed attempt to buy the Bills. In August, the AG’s office said in court filings that it’s examining multiple Trump Organization properties in New York City, Chicago, upstate New York, and Los Angeles.
While the probe is civil in nature, the AG could hand over any evidence of wrongdoing to criminal prosecutors. And she could utilize the state’s Business Corporation Law and file a lawsuit seeking to dissolve Trump’s family business, depending on the evidence she turns up. Jed Shugerman, a professor at Fordham University Law School, has argued she should do precisely that.
Trump vs. Bon Jovi
Back in 2014, Trump was trying to raise the funds for his bid and also shake off a rival: a group of Canadian investors that had teamed up with Jon Bon Jovi.
Trump tapped longtime political ally Michael Caputo to help fan rumors that the rocker and his Canadian financial backers were planning to move the team to Toronto, as part of a plan to turn local sentiment against the rock star.
The plan worked—to a degree. Local Bills fans turned against the singer of “Livin’ on a Prayer” and declared local bars “Bon Jovi–Free Zones.”
In the end, Trump didn’t get the Bills, and neither did Bon Jovi. The winning $1.4 billion bid was filed by Terry Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team.
Bon Jovi later insisted he never planned to take the Bills out of Buffalo. He called the battle “scarring.”
“I won’t ever go back to the city of Buffalo,” he told GQ in October. “You will never see my face in Buffalo ever. I have knocked it off the map.”
But if Trump’s old football fiasco comes back to haunt him in court, it may be the hair metal rocker who gets the last laugh.