Stephen J. Cloobeck: Top Democratic Party Donor Living the Great Life

Stephen J. Cloobeck former Chairman [maybe current: hard to tell!] of Diamond Resorts International has garnered a lot of publicity recently. Cloobeck is noted for being Nevada’s highest official dollar-level donor to the Democratic party.

In April, he made headlines for endorsing Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller’s bid for reelection until Heller refused to back tougher gun control laws in the wake of the Mandalay Bay terror shootings [this links to an article written on behalf of my student, who was in the front 8 rows of the concert when the gunshots began]. Last week on MSNBC, Cloobeck, who contributed $1 million to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, said he would withdraw his contributions to Democrats if the party made any movements “toward the left.”

Cloobeck loves to be on television. That’s where I first saw him, identified as Diamond Resorts’ “chairman” commenting about the need for gun control in the wake of the Vegas attack. Knowing nothing about him, I assumed he was a Vegas property owner similar to Steve Wynn and that his statement showed some common sense and a potential movement toward public safety.

But then this week arrived. Getting blowback for his comments about withdrawing his funds for the Democratic party if any “leftward movement occurred,” Cloobeck tripled down. And then some. Simply put, he doesn’t like criticism of wealthy individuals, particularly himself, and wants to call the shots for the Democratic party. He’d support Republicans except they’re “anti-Semitic.”

This is basically my friend Tina’s fault. I wouldn’t be doing this if she hadn’t drawn my attention to Cloobeck, who is really a champ in being a …

First things first.

He loves to be on television. He not only showed up on TV commenting on gun control after the Mandalay Bay massacre, he is the only boss to have appeared on CBS’ Undercover Boss twice. There’s plenty of publicity about Cloobeck’s appearances on the show. One article describes him as “the most generous CEO on Undercover Boss.”

Other articles feature hundreds of Diamond Resorts timeshare owners who were spurred into outraged action after his appearance.

Cloobeck told people on Twitter that if they just worked hard enough, they too, could be successful just like he is.

He might be rich and on TV constantly but I don’t think it was very wise for him to blare out how much he paid in taxes this year. You’ll see why in a bit …

Cloobeck could see my friend Tina has a blue check (she’s an actress) and he probably knows that Nomiki has worked very hard for progressive candidates and principles. So he was responding to them on Twitter. I’m not sure he responded to RoseAnn. She’s the nurses union leader so he probably doesn’t think he needs to respond to her.

So, Cloobeck married his “beauty queen” wife Chantal at the Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles in 1997. I was just glancing and of course this isn’t Cloobeck’s first marriage. His first wife’s name is Heather.

Chantal’s good parenting ideas were featured in an issue of Parenting Magazine at the same time Cloobeck made his first Undercover Boss appearance. Similarly to Cloobeck’s Twitter advice to the unfortunates who aren’t as wealthy as he is, the parenting technique consisted of giving the couple’s “three young children” (from the sound of it — all boys) tokens for doing their chores each day.

“You may get one token for doing something right, but for something wrong you lose five or ten tokens,” Cloobeck told Parenting. Examples of wrong included spitting, hitting, choking, and farting. “Not gentlemanly.”

So, here’s the deal. Cloobeck still owns shares of Diamond Resorts International, but he doesn’t own the company. The company had an IPO in 2013 and a sale was initiated to Apollo Global Management in June, 2016 for $2.2 billion.

Mr. Cloobeck is a very smart, hard-working man because only six months after the Apollo deal was okayed, owners of Diamond Resorts International [DRI] timeshare properties filed a $1 billion class action lawsuit against the company in Las Vegas Federal District Court. The suit, filed by one of Nevada’s top civil litigation firms, charges that DRI used fraudulent practices to bilk mostly elderly vacation property owners out of tens of thousands of dollars in membership and maintenance fees and used high-pressure sales tactics.

So, my other friend, progressive attorney Esha Krishnaswamy, turned up not only the $1 billion class action lawsuit, but also over 1,000 Better Business Bureau flaming hot Cheeto complaints against Cloobeck’s company. The company has BBB accounts in all the states where it has resorts, so there are some fairly okay BBB reports and some that are like this one, from Arizona.

This would be “not good”

I’ve never seen a business with a BBB “government action” warning page before.

Diamond Resorts International has flaming Ripoff Report and Trust Pilot review pages with complaints from hundreds of disgruntled customers. The gist of every complaint is that their timeshares are worthless and they cannot even pay people to take them off their hands. Most complainants state they not only cannot sell their timeshares, the company’s “points” system means it’s difficult or impossible to stay at the resort of their choice, and they’re saddled with maintenance fees and administrative costs that increase without warning and are spiraling out of control.

One of the resorts is The Point at Poipu, a place I’ve actually seen (not stayed at — paupers like myself and Bruce can’t afford high class places like that). Its owners filed a class action lawsuit against Diamond Resorts International in 2012: they’re the owners that created the ruckus when Cloobeck simultaneously appeared as the “most generous Undercover Boss ever.”

The owners received additional property assessments on their timeshares at the Poipu property which represented $65 million needed for “water intrusion damage.” The total of repairs equaled $300,000 per each owner per unit, which raised a few eyebrows and resulted to the lawsuit, which in the interim, has been settled through mediation. I just glanced through the web page and said a prayer of thanks I had never mistaken purchasing a timeshare at Poipu for “vacation.”

Sometimes it’s a good thing, being poor.

So, Cloobeck stated via Twitter that he had started with negative equity. He portrayed himself as an “entrepreneur taking risks.”

When he married Chantal in 1997 at the Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles, the Vegas Sun article identified Steve as “President of the Polo Towers on the Strip.” Steve’s father Sheldon Cloobeck was in attendance at the wedding along with many other notable guests, including another Sheldon: Adelson.

By 1998, Cloobeck had overseen the dissolution of his father’s Cloobeck Enterprises company, which owned the timeshare Polo Towers, and created a new corporate entity: WorldStar Resorts.

Only: Sheldon Cloobeck Enterprises, Inc. was a California corporation that merged with WorldStar, and it started in 1987 with these officers:

Ten years later, Cloobeck launched Diamond Resorts International with a group of investors, purchasing the former Sunterra Resorts portfolio of 100 timeshare properties. Starwood Capital, mentioned in the 1997 release, recently merged with Marriott in a $13.6 billion deal.

Cloobeck’s father Sheldon has a recently-closed Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in Nevada Bankruptcy Court, following upon a June, 2007 Chapter 11 discharge, also in Nevada (the same year his son, Stephen, put together the purchase of financially troubled Sunterra Resorts, launching Diamond Resorts International). The elder Cloobeck’s bankruptcies seem to coincide with major financial transactions related to the younger Cloobeck’s growing equity ownership of the timeshare properties.

And as always in cases like this — Cloobeck does not appreciate Donald Trump bankrupting a Puerto Rican golf property in only seven years.

A lot of average people don’t know that if you file for bankruptcy it will vacate most civil court judgments. I have a life and I’ve seen enough of these Cloobeck articles to know that it is unlikely that a lack of funds motivated the elder Cloobeck to make those bankruptcy filings (I’m not going to search for senior Cloobeck lawsuits, although one was recently concluded in the Chapter 7 proceeding which set forth appellate case law regarding trustee notification of debtors regarding tax payments). As of November 2013, Sheldon Cloobeck was one of 54 employees of Diamond Resorts International, Inc. — a publically-traded company.

By the way Mr. Cloobeck: you will quickly learn through your helpers that Wells Fargo took my house over two years ago and I have no money. So what I’m doing right now, your brother might tell ya: it’s called “the tyranny of the poor.” You might be inclined to sue me but there’s no assets to be obtained, nor any satisfaction to be gotten from suing me for assembling verifiable facts from public sources.

According to you, Mr. Cloobeck, I am poor because I don’t work hard enough. I’m also dumb, too, because I turned down a man worth 1 million of you or more, a real wealthy man of honor from a genuine billionaire family. (I actually said something about your trophy wife but she seems like a really nice lady and I cannot blame her for accepting a life of ease and comfort for her children — I’d do anything for mine as well).

So I am a poor woman who works 60–70 hours a week teaching part-time and writing for cash. A poor old worthless woman who can’t even afford to be ripped off by one of your heavy-pressure timeshare salespeople.

I’m not even a real Jew so I can’t go to the Stephen Wise Temple.

Oh, yeah, my poor, worthless old grandmother who was only 4'10" was one of the six founding members of the American Communist Party and the first licensed female pharmacist in California. My mother redesigned Mr. Magoo and was one of the first female animation art directors. Your helpers can tell you what else I’ve done when they finish telling you if you sue me, you will not only lose, you will experience a worse Karma Train than the one that’s already bearing down full steam upon you …

for ripping people off for decades …

for ripping off the elderly! …

for paying your employees horribly …

Yeah, if that Democrat party goes any farther left, like #Fightfor15 …

I didn’t know you’d already done that $2.2 billion Apollo deal when I asked what you’d do if the bank called in the note on your properties after the many owners couldn’t pay their fees and charges. Do you really think it was super-brilliant to state on Twitter that you’d paid $70 million in taxes? Off … what would that be, a capital gain of according to Forbes … $375 million? Hmn. $74 million — yes, that is, just about right. But then there’s those state taxes and apparently Laguna Beach seems to think you live there, too. Oh, that’s another 13.3%.

I didn’t do this type of business planning, Steve-O. I did small to medium enterprises where people actually did work, made products, had restaurants, provided services. Back when they could you know, go to the bank and get a small start-up loan, and include some sweat equity.

Not do a presto-change-o and refresh credit when their dad ran out of sleight of hand and build so-called “wealth” on the backs of people making $12 an hour and elderly people hit with terrifying surcharges and repos of worthless timeshares. Not like that. Not a thing — like that.

I don’t think you’ll do too well in your bid for Governor of Nevada. But that’s just my opinion.

According to Harlan Ellison and my grandmother, “You’ll go far Amy, because you have heart.” Author of 40 books, former exec., Nebula Award nominee, Poor.

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