Thomas J. Barrack Jr. is a longtime friend of Donald Trump‘s and will be the last person without the Trump name to speak at the Republican National Convention on July 21. Barrack is the founder and CEO of real estate investment firm Colony Capital and also worked in the Ronald Reagan Administration as Deputy Undersecretary of the Department of the Interior. He has been one of Trump’s major donors and formally endorsed him in February.
Here’s a look at Barrack and Trump’s relationship.
1. Trump & Barrack Have Been Friends Since the 1980s, When Barrack Helped Sell The Plaza Hotel to Trump
Barrack and Trump have been friends since the 1980s and Trump had his eye on buying New York’s Plaza Hotel for awhile. In 1988, Barrack’s boss, Robert Bass, owned it. Just four months after Bass bought the hotel, Barrack was given a green light to negotiate a sale with Trump for the hotel, reports the New York Times. It was about to go to auction, but Trump wanted Bass to skip that process.
“I told him: ‘You’re too good. You’ll want to buy it and it will get tied up in all these contingencies.’ He said, ‘No, it’ll be a real deal.’ I said, ‘No contingencies,'” Barrack recalled in an interview with the Times about the deal. Bass sold Trump the Plaza for $407.5 million.
“It was a genius deal for Trump because while an auction would have fetched a bigger initial price, it would have been tangled up in contingencies. And he’d just convinced me to fix everything for him,” Barrack told the Times.
2. Barrack Says Trump Is ‘One of the Kindest & Most Humble Friends I’ve Had’ & Thinks He Can Win in November
Before formally endorsing Trump, Barrack was already talking about how great a person his friend is. “I’ve known Donald Trump for almost 30 years. He’s one of the kindest and most humble friends I’ve had,” Barrack told CNBC on February 1. “He’s one of the smartest and most astute businessmen I’ve ever known.”
Barrack also said that he thinks Trump can win in November and that the country is ready to be run like a business.
“So, whether you like it or don’t like it, what you’re getting is unfiltered and raw from a guy who’s writing his own checks. I think that’s novel,” Barrack said.
“Tom has an amazing vision of the future, an ability to see what’s going to happen that no one else can match,” Trump said of Barrack in a 2005 Fortune Magazine interview.
The Trump campaign released a statement on February 29, announcing Barrack’s formal endorsement of the candidate.
3. Barrack Helped Kick off a Campaign Fundraising Effort in May
In late May, the Trump campaign kicked off an effort to raise $1 billion called “Trump Victory” and it started with a fundraising event at Barrack’s home on May 25 in Los Angeles. The Los Angles Times reported that tickets for the event started at $25,000 per individual or $100,000 per couple.
Barrack told CNN that he raised $9.5 million from that event for Trump, which Trump even attended. “He was his real, usual class act,” Barrack said of Trump.
According to Bloomberg, Trump reported to the Federal Election Committee that his campaign raised $94.2 million during his campaign, but $89 million of that was raised in June alone.
4. Barrack Created the Rebuilding America Now Super-PAC to Support Trump, Starting With $32 Million From Donors
In an interview with CNN in June, Barrack announced that he created a Super-PAC called Rebuilding America Now, which was backed by $32 million from four new donors. The group has since created six advertisements. The latest highlighted infamous lies from Bill and Hillary Clinton.
“These super PACs have meaning, they have purpose, but they have been viewed historically as being not so trustworthy,” Barrack said on CNN. “So the idea of having a solid, trustworthy — with no skimming, no float — that’s aligned with the candidate but is not coordinating with the candidate, is key.”
5. Barrack Criticized NAFTA & TPP, Just Like Trump
In an essay on globalization that Bloomberg posted, Barrack does not mention Trump, but he makes cases for economic ideas Trump has shared on the campaign trail. He criticizes two of Trump’s favorite punching bags – the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
He calls for new negotiations with Canada and Mexico on NAFTA, as one could “ensure the benefits of trade outweigh its negative impact on American workers and strengthen the alliance among the three North American allies.” In September 2015, Trump was more blunt, calling NAFTA a “disaster” that he would try to “break.”
In his essay, Barrack makes the case against TPP. Barrack writes that studies showed American workers would not see the benefits of the trade partnership and doesn’t take into account how cheaper labor could be found overseas or how currency manipulation would hurt the U.S.
“The TPP will not only destroy our manufacturing, but it will make America subject to the rulings of foreign governments,” Trump will say in his speech on July 21 at the convention, via Politico. “I pledge to never sign any trade agreement that hurts our workers, or that diminishes our freedom and independence. Instead, I will make individual deals with individual countries.”