Moishe Mana loves America, and he certainly won't let a man like Donald Trump walk all over it. During an interview with New Times yesterday, the Miami superdeveloper, who owns most of the south end of Wynwood, sounded choked up talking about his pride for this country.
"I came here as a dishwasher," Mana says though his thick Israeli accent. "America, for me, this is the best-ever country that the human race ever created. America has been so good to me."
So, Mana says, to ensure that Trump doesn't become president and decimate our still-great nation, he'll donate $1 million to a charity of Trump's choosing — but only if Trump finally releases his much-debated tax returns.
"Many people voting for him think he’s so rich and charitable," Mana says. "But he's not rich as he says, not charitable as much as he says. Not close to it."
Many in politics assume Trump's tax returns are the smoking gun to prove Trump isn't nearly as rich as he claims. Others say the returns will prove he's deeply tied to numerous Russian oligarchs. Many have speculated that Trump has financial ties to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, the man almost certainly behind the recent hack of Democratic National Committee emails, and that Putin hacked the DNC to tip the scales in Trump's favor.
But Trump has repeatedly refused to release his tax returns, claiming he's part of an ongoing audit. The IRS, however, says there is nothing preventing Trump from publicizing his returns.
Every Republican nominee since Richard Nixon has released his tax returns before the general election.
Mana, who owns the Mana Wynwood warehouse complex that hosts the III Points music festival every year, is battling to turn a vast swath of land in the south end of Wynwood into a microcity based on art and design, complete with 24-story rental towers. The City of Miami's Design Review Board also approved Mana's plans for a 49-story microliving skyscraper in downtown this week.
Mana says that he's not necessarily loyal to either party but that he has reluctantly thrown his support behind Hillary Clinton to avoid electing a man he views as a fraud.
"Hillary Clinton is not the best choice," he says. " If I could get somebody else, I would, but I support her 100 percent right now. Hillary has proven herself as a person, in public service, in the system."
Mana, an Israeli native, famously moved to America with barely a cent in his pocket. According to Haaretz, he began working as a dishwasher and street vendor in New York City and eventually started his own moving service that made deliveries for $12.50 an hour. By the mid-1990s, Mana owned the largest moving company in the New York tri-state area. He then transitioned into real estate and now splits his time between Miami and his Manhattan apartment.
So, he says, he "runs in many of the same circles" as Donald Trump. And he says America doesn't know the full truth about the presidential candidate.
"Banks do not want to give him money," Mana says. "He does not have anything close to this money he claims. To me, he’s worth nothing." He compares Trump's promises to those of many of the world's most prominent dictators.
"What really bothers me is anybody who comes and introduces himself as a messiah," he says. "I hate those people. We have Mussolini, Hitler... the Ayatollah of Iran, Fidel Castro. They all came with the idea of, 'I’m the only one who can save the country.' But these types of leaders, there's nothing they can do."
As a Jewish person, Mana says, he's also frightened about the fact that both Jewish people and white supremacists have rallied around the same candidate, and he fears that Trump will one day turn on the Jewish people.
But he does not, however, assume Trump will take him up on the deal. Naturally, he says he hasn't heard a word from him yet.
"But America," he says, "is worth more than a million dollars for me. If he says $2 million, I'll go $2 million."