The Trump Files: When a Sleazy Hot-Tub Salesman Tried to Take Donald Trump’s Name

And Trump sent a lawyer to stop him.

Ivylise Simones

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Until the election, we’re bringing you “The Trump Files,” a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of GOP nominee Donald Trump.

In 2000, a spa salesman in Medford, Oregon, decided to change his name to Donald Trump Jr., in honor of his hero, Donald Trump.

Trump loves flattery, but he hates it when other people try to take his name. After the Oregon man, Chad Michael Milligan, filed a name-change petition in court, Trump dispatched a “slick city lawyer,” as the New York Post put it, to stop him.

Milligan told a local paper that he had based his whole life on Trump. The Post compared Trump and his admirer, noting that there weren’t many similarities between the two men, other than the fact that they both had two ex-wives and shared the same favorite book, Trump’s The Art of the Deal. But Trump’s lawyer claimed that Milligan was trying to use the Trump name to cozy up to creditors by tricking them into thinking he was related to the New York billionaire.

Milligan, it turns out, was a shady character. He was a convicted petty thief. He had 34 lawsuits pending against him, making him one of the most sued men in Medford. The Post reported that the suits covered “everything from unpaid child support to delinquent bills to complaints about the service at his hot-tub business.” He owed $4,700 in taxes to the state of Oregon. Those who had crossed paths with Milligan told the Post that he was “a sleazy character” with a “superiority complex” and “as crooked as the Snake River.”

Like Trump, Milligan didn’t back down when confronted with a legal fight over the name change. “We’ll see how many millions Trump wants to spend on this,” he said.

A slew of lawsuits, tax avoidance, complaints about his business, a big ego, and an appetite for legal battles: Perhaps Milligan and Trump had a few things in common after all.

Read the rest of “The Trump Files”:


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend