Born: Oct. 16, 1960
Family: Married, Kathleen Trott; three children
Education: University of Michigan, A.B., 1981; Duke University, J.D., 1985
Career: Law firm owner, 1985-2014; management-services company chairman, 2006-13; title agency chairman, 1998-present; real-estate company chairman, 2009-present; mortgage quality-control company shareholder and director, 2002-12; financial company president, 2002-04
Elected Office: Bingham Farms Village Council, 1987-88
Businessman and foreclosure lawyer Dave Trott defeated Democrat Bobby McKenzie, a former counterterrorism adviser to the State Department, to represent the 11th District’s collection of suburbs west and northwest of Detroit. But he was dogged by Santa Claus all the way.
Trott, chairman and CEO of Trott & Trott law firm, challenged Rep. Kerry Bentivolio — a part-time reindeer rancher and Santa Claus impersonator in a traveling Christmas show before coming to Congress — in the Republican primary, beating the incumbent by a 2-to-1 ratio. Then, as the favorite in the GOP-leaning district in the general election, Trott defeated both McKenzie and Bentivolio, who announced in October that he would wage a write-in campaign.
Trott, who was born in Birmingham, joined the family firm in 1985 after getting his law degree from Duke and later came to head it; he said in a campaign ad that he expanded the company from six people to 1,200. The nature of the business, which is the largest foreclosure law firm in Michigan and one of the largest in the country, was an issue in both the primary and the general election.
Bentivolio’s election came after the district’s five-term GOP congressman, Thaddeus McCotter, was found not to have enough valid signatures on his nominating petitions to qualify for the ballot. McCotter ultimately resigned amid a broader investigation, and the seat flipped to a Democrat, David Curson, who held it from November 2012 to January 2013. Bentivolio won a two-year term in the redrawn district with the tea party’s backing, earning the nickname “the accidental congressman.”
When Trott, with support from the GOP establishment, challenged Bentivolio, the incumbent launched a negative campaign, calling Trott the “Foreclosure King.” A campaign ad featured a 101-year-old Detroit woman who had lived in the family home for 65 years and lost it to foreclosure. The woman’s son, without her knowledge, had taken out a reverse mortgage and hidden eviction notices from her. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Trott defended his business, saying, “I’m just doing my job for my clients.”
McKenzie also attacked Trott for his foreclosure legal business, but Trott’s solid conservatism — he pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act, secure the border, and defend gun rights — played well with voters. “What you see is what you get,” he promised on his campaign website. “I will not tell you one thing and do another.”
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