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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman March 8, 2016

A pro-Marco Rubio PAC says Donald Trump bans disabled veterans from Trump Tower

A PAC supporting Marco Rubio says Donald Trump mistreats those less fortunate than him -- including disabled veterans.

Trump "bans disabled veterans from his high rise," states the ad by the Conservative Solutions PAC. The ad has aired in San Francisco and multiple markets in Florida, including Miami and Tampa.

Did the New York billionaire give the boot to disabled veterans from his high rise? No, he didn’t do that. Instead, he wanted to ban disabled veterans who were given special licenses to peddle from selling their wares in front of his high rise.

"It is simply not true and a misrepresentation of the facts in every way," Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told PolitiFact Florida.

A few days after the ad started running on TV, the PAC changed the wording of the line about veterans. We are putting the ad’s original claim on the Truth-O-Meter, but we will explain how and why the PAC tweaked the wording.

Trump’s Fifth Avenue high rise

Trump wanted to get rid of street vendors around the Trump Tower, a 68-story condo and retail building on Fifth Avenue.

The ad shows a Jan. 28, 2016, headline from the Daily Beast: "Donald Trump wanted vets kicked off Fifth Avenue." (A spokesman for the PAC referred PolitiFact to the Daily Beast article and the New York Daily News article cited within it.)

Peddling exemptions for disabled veterans have a long history in New York. First approved by the state in 1894, the exemption allowed disabled veterans to peddle on any commercial street or park throughout the state.

In 1991, the state Legislature took up a bill to amend the law. Most peddling was prohibited on Fifth Avenue -- but 176 disabled veterans still had permission to peddle there.

Trump wrote a letter to John Dearie, then-chairman of the state Assembly’s Committee on Cities, according to the New York Daily News:

"While disabled veterans should be given every opportunity to earn a living, is it fair to do so to the detriment of the city as a whole or its tax-paying citizens and businesses?" Trump wrote. "Do we allow Fifth Avenue, one of the world’s finest and most luxurious shopping districts, to be turned into an outdoor flea market, clogging and seriously downgrading the area?"

In July 1991, New York City Mayor David Dinkins announced that an agreement had been reached with the Fifth Avenue Association, which represented hundreds of businesses. The businesses would offer disabled veterans jobs at twice the minimum wage, and the association would set up a fund to pay for job training, education or to move vendors to other parts of the city.

The next month, then-Gov. Mario Cuomo signed a bill to repeal the peddling, but only for four years.

In 1995, when the bill was up for renewal, the Legislature struck a compromise that banned peddling from Midtown Manhattan but included a plan to allow it in other zones to be defined later. Months later, some veterans continued to peddle in the banned area.

In 2004, Trump complained about the vendors in a letter to then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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"Whether they are veterans or not, they (the vendors) should not be allowed to sell on this most important and prestigious shopping street," Trump wrote, according to the New York Post.

Trump wrote that business owners had to repeatedly clean up debris left as a result of the vendors.

"Frankly, I have no idea how they can be doing business with the mess they have outside their front door," he wrote. "Fifth Avenue’s comeback is going to be a short one if this situation is not corrected immediately."

In response to his letter, a small group of protesters waved signs in front of Trump Tower that read, "Vendors to Trump: You're Fired!" and "Why can't vets vend on streets we die to protect?"

We told the PAC’s spokesman that the ad could cause viewers to wrongly assume that Trump wanted to ban disabled veterans from living in his high rise.

"Ad didn’t mention living," Jeff Sadosky replied.

PAC changes ad

After we started our fact-check, the PAC changed the wording of the ad.

The original ad started Feb. 26, according to the Political TV Ad Archive, a website that tracks campaign ads and partnered with PolitiFact and other fact-checkers.

On Feb. 29, wrote that the ad was "miseading" and left out crucial details.

By that date, the ad had aired at least 135 times in the Miami, Tampa and Orlando markets.

PolitiFact first contacted the PAC about the ad on Feb. 29 and then later noticed on TV that the script had changed.

The original ad said that Trump "bans disabled veterans from his high rise." But the new version said that Trump "bans veterans from in front of his high rise."

Sadosky said the PAC changed the ad on March 1 "to be more specific."

Our ruling

A pro-Rubio Super PAC said Trump "bans disabled veterans from his high rise."

The TV ad is misleading because viewers could assume that Trump tried to ban disabled veterans from living in his high rise. His beef was with street vendors including disabled veterans who were given special vendor licenses selling wares around his Trump Tower. Nothing in the ad makes it clear that this related to vendors selling on the street.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

Our Sources

Political Ad Archive, Conservative Solutions PAC ad "Fools", Feb. 26, 2016

Trump Tower, Website, Accessed March 1, 2016

New York City Consumer Affairs, General vendor license information, Accessed March 1, 2016

Newsday, "5th Ave. Peddlers Lose Albany Bid," (Accessed in Nexis) Aug. 3, 1991

New York Times, "Mixed reviews on 5th ave. to veterans’ peddling curb," July 4, 1991

New York Times, "Cuomo Sides With Disabled Veterans Who Peddle," May 21, 1992

New York TImes, "Lawmakers Agree on Peddling Zones," (Accessed in Nexis) June 16, 1995

New York Daily News, "Vets’ Vending War," July 9, 1995

Newsday, "Vendors fired up against Trump," June 20, 2004

New York Times, "An Altar to Trump Swallows a Space Meant for the Public," July 14, 2015

New York Daily News, "Donald Trump tried to limit street vendors on Fifth Ave., including those who were veterans," Aug. 3, 2015

New York Times, "Unwelcome Mat Is Out at Some Public Spaces," Sept. 8, 2015

The Daily Beast, "Donald Trump wanted veterans kicked off Fifth Avenue," Jan. 28, 2016, "Trump vs. Veteran Vendors," Feb. 29, 2016

PolitiFact, Conservative Solutions PAC Truth-O-Meter, accessed March 2, 2016

Interview, Katyusca Abreu, Assistant Press Secretary, New York City Department of Consumer Affairs,

Interview, Hope Hicks, Donald Trump campaign spokeswoman, March 1, 2016

Interview, Jeff Sadosky, Conservative Solutions PAC spokesman, March 2, 2016


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More by Amy Sherman

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