In 2004, Fort Lauderdale attorney Bradford Cohen was a candidate on the second season of The Apprentice, a reality-TV show in which Donald Trump evaluates candidates' business skills and offers the winner a job within his organization. In episode two, Cohen won a challenge and so, per the rules, was immune to elimination. But to gain the trust of his team, Cohen decided to waive his immunity.
Trump called Cohen "stupid." Then he fired Cohen.
Twelve years later, Bradford Cohen harbors no hard feelings toward the now-presidential candidate. A registered independent, Cohen is perhaps the most passionate Trump supporter in Broward County, Florida’s largest Democratic county. In September, Cohen plastered a huge, seven-by-20-foot Trump billboard outside his law office on SE Third Avenue in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The sign is lit with a string of fairy lights at night. Cohen also passes out Trump hats and shirts to passersby.
“If Trump doesn’t like you, he will tell you,” Cohen says. "There’s something so refreshing about that.”
After being fired from The Apprentice, Cohen continued practicing criminal law. He has spoken on Nancy Grace and other TV shows as a legal commentator. In 2006, he ran for the Fort Lauderdale City Commission but lost the election, coming in third. He hasn’t run again. His website lists "white collar crimes" as his specialty.
During Cohen's campaign for office, Trump called him "a very smart lawyer... a brilliant guy" who's "doing fantastic things" — as evidenced in this video:
"Trump donated to my campaign as much as he could," Cohen recalls. "I think the limit was $250."
Ironically, in 2007, Cohen donated $1,000 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — a move Cohen now regrets.
"I vote for whoever I think will make the best president. At the time, I thought it was Hillary," he says. “But I was very unimpressed with her as Secretary of State, and I think a lot of people are too."
Cohen thinks just the opposite of Trump, whom he says he has met a handful of times since the show and really admires. In fact, Cohen is so excited for Trump’s campaign that he intends to switch his party registration to Republican. He scoffed at internet theories speculating that Trump is actually a false-flag candidate whose participation in the race will ultimately throw the election to Clinton.
"I’ve never been this excited for a presidential candidate. Maybe it’s because I know him, but I just think he is going to be an amazing leader," Cohen says. “Not only do I think he’s going to get the [Republican] nomination; I think he’s going to be president.”
Cohen says his outward display of Trump support is not affecting his business. If anything, it has helped, he says.
"I don't think twice about the sign. I honestly don’t care what people think,” he says. “If someone doesn’t want to hire me because of politics, that’s OK too. But I’ve never had that happen."
Every day, Trump supporters stop by Cohen’s office and pose outside the enormous Trump sign. Sometimes, they even ask Cohen to step outside and pose for photos too. Cohen estimates that he spends over an hour day responding to emails and messages about Trump from other supporters. It became so time-consuming that Cohen had to delete his Facebook account.
"These aren't just quick messages. Some of them are five and six paragraphs," he says. "And I always answer them."
Cohen admits that the massive sign outside his office has been vandalized a handful of times since September. It’s currently cut in the middle. But Cohen doesn’t dwell on that and just fixes it each time.
"I’ll be putting up more signs soon," Cohen says. "I'd get a bigger sign, but there were no extra-larges."
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