Remember When Trump Tried to Bulldoze a Widow’s Home to Make a Parking Lot for Limos?

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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to a question on July 18 at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa. Jim Young/Reuters

Donald Trump is leading the GOP primary polls with 24 percent. Trump, as Reason's Matt Welch put it, may be a "vulgar anti-intellect who cannot string a coherent paragraph together." But he's also a consummate bully and crony capitalist who has never been shy about using government to coerce people who get in his way.

In 1994, Trump got Atlantic City, New Jersey, to condemn Vera Coking's home so that he could build limo parking for his Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. The Institute for Justice took on Trump in one of its first big eminent domain cases:

Vera Coking, an elderly widow from Atlantic City, knows firsthand the power of unaccountable government agencies. The Institute for Justice successfully defended Vera against the condemnation of her home by a State agency that sought to take her property and transfer it—at a bargain-basement price—to another private individual: Donald Trump.

Trump convinced the State agency to use its “eminent domain” power to take Vera’s home so he could construct a limousine parking lot for his customers—hardly a public purpose.

And unfortunately, cases in which government agencies act not as protectors of constitutionally guaranteed rights, but instead as agents for powerful, private interests, have become all too common.

Thanks to Institute for Justice, she was able to beat Trump and the city government and win the right to keep her property.

Coking moved to a retirement home in 2010, having lived almost 50 years in her Atlantic City home. Coking's grandson finally sold the house in July 2014; less than two months later, the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino closed for lack of business.

Daniel Bier is the editor of the Anything Peaceful blog on the Foundation for Economic Education site, which is where this article first appeared.