Eminent domain law leads to heated exchange between Donald Trump, Jeb Bush

There was a presidential debate on Saturday night? For those that didn’t go out for a lovely dinner with their spouse or spend time at home with the family watching movies, the Republicans provided voters with another entertaining escapade. But one of the most exciting parts came during a discussion on eminent domain.

Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner who will likely win the New Hampshire primary Monday, was asked about eminent domain. Trump has been a vocal advocate of the controversial policy (SEE: Donald Trump says eminent domain is ‘a wonderful thing’). He defended his position that it helps society in terms of new roads, infrastructure, schools and so on. Trump added that the property owners are compensated very well. (Obviously he needs to read some Walter Block.)

Of course, it was noted by Jeb Bush, the fledgling establishment ex-governor, that it was for a private limousine parking lot. Should Bush condemn Trump for eminent domain? Of course not! It’s one of the revenue streams the Bush family acquired their wealth from.

Here’s a story from Texas reporter Robert Brice in May of 1997:

“In April of 1991, the Rangers shepherded through the Legislature a bill [that] would create the Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority, a quasi-governmental entity endowed with the power of eminent domain. Shortly after the bill was signed into law by former Governor Ann Richards, three parcels of land located near the stadium, nearly thirteen acres in all, were condemned by the ASFDA. The land was owned by … the heirs of television magnate Curtis Mathes.Among court documents is an unsigned Rangers memo by a team representative, discussing the history of the Mathes tracts. The representative notes that in his first contact with the Mathes family concerning the land, on November 6, 1990, “I was not well received.” The memo goes on to say that the ASFDA’s appraiser assigned the land a value of $3.16 per square foot, for a total value of $1.515 million. “An offer was made by the Authority at this price. This offer was rejected & the Sellers countered with $2,835,000.00 for all three tracts, i.e.: $5.31 p.s.f.” In mid-December, the ASFDA offered the Mathes heirs just $817,220 for the three tracts, far below even what the ASFDA’s first appraiser had suggested. The Mathes family refused to sell, and the ASFDA seized the land through eminent domain.

Glenn Sodd, a Corsicana attorney who represents the Mathes family, says he has found little evidence that Bush was directly involved in the decisions to condemn the property for the stadium. But he adds, “What happened to my folks was pretty audacious. It was the first time in Texas history that the power of eminent domain has been used to assist a private organization like a baseball team.”

[In May 1996], a Tarrant County jury found that the sports authority’s offer of $817,220 for the Mathes property was too low, and it awarded the Mathes heirs $4.98 million, plus accumulated interest. For the past year, the city of Arlington and the Rangers have been arguing over who will pay the tab.”

Anyway, the two then got into a heated exchange over the matter, which can be seen in the embedded video below.

Trump was pretty much booed out of the building on the subject matter and for his uncouth behavior. He then accused the audience of being campaign donors and special interests. Trump went into a brief tangent about how he’s self-funding his campaign and doesn’t rely on their money. He ended off the segment telling Bush that the Keystone XL pipeline is a private job utilizing eminent domain laws.

Oh, and for those of you interested in Block’s criticism of eminent domain, here you go:

“Eminent domain is totally and completely inconsistent with free enterprise and libertarianism. It amounts to no more and no less than land theft,” he said.

“Road privatization would help everyone, except for bureaucrats, politicians, “civil servants” employed by present statist road managers, etc. I claim that the cost of street use would decrease. See the “rule of two” mentioned above. Congestion problems would decrease, as peak-load pricing (charging more during rush hours than at 3 a.m., which irons out the variations in demand during the day) would become the order of the day. Right now, the government engages in anti-peak-load pricing, which exacerbates the problem. They commonly sell monthly tickets to bridges, tunnels, etc., at a cheaper price per trip than otherwise. But who uses such tickets? Employees, not casual shoppers, visitors. And when do they use these tickets? Precisely during rush hours.”

Like this article? Get ECN delivered to your inbox daily. Subscribe here.

Leave a Comment