Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Fresno, California.
Photo by Josh Edelson—AFP via Getty Images
By Michal Addady
May 29, 2016

Congressman Jerold Nadler wrote an open letter to Donald Trump demanding that he return a federal grant he accepted following the 9/11 attacks.

Nadler is referring to recent reports that have resurfaced a 2006 Daily News exposé. It found that large corporations had taken advantage of a program intended to help small business owners in lower Manhattan recover from the 2001 events. The presidential candidate reportedly received a $150,000 grant for his property, 40 Wall Street LLC, through the World Trade Center Business Recovery Grant program.

According to federal criteria, which defines a small business as one with less than $6 million in annual revenue, 40 Wall Street would not be considered a small business. However, the Empire State Development Corp., the state agency that distributed the money, eschewed those federal standards.

It instead defined a small business as one with less than 500 employees, not taking into account affiliates or subsidiaries—a move that needs approval from the Small Business Administration, which the ESDC failed to get. Though 40 Wall Street’s annual revenue of $26.8 million was way over the federal cap, it only had 28 employees at the time, making it eligible for the grant money by ESDC standards.

“The company received this small amount of money after qualifying, given the limited number of employees working at the property,” Trump told Fortune in an emailed statement. The candidate didn’t technically do anything wrong, but Nadler’s letter is more focused on the moral implications.

Nadler is a representative for New York’s 10th district, which included both the Twin Towers and Trump’s property at 40 Wall Street. As he notes in his letter, Trump stated shortly after the attack that his property hadn’t been damaged. He writes, “In grabbing that money with both fists, you took it out of the pockets of small business owners in New York who were truly hurting, and prevented them from taking full advantage of the relief so generously offered by their fellow citizens.”

Nadler demands that Trump either return the funds or donate them to a charity dedicated to supporting true victims of 9/11.

Congressman Nadler could not immediately be reached for comment.

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