In the most recent Republican debate on CNN, Marco Rubio went after Donald Trump over something called "Trump University," which I suspect most people have never heard of. Someone might be forgiven for thinking it was something like Harvard University on a lesser scale, an institution of higher learning named for a generous benefactor. Actually, it was a lot closer to those get-rich-through-real-estate seminars you see advertised overnight on television. Here are a few news articles about it. (You can find plenty more with a web search.)
- CBS News: "Trump University under renewed scrutiny after GOP debate"
- CNN: "Trump University fraud case becomes campaign issue at GOP debate"
- CNN: "Trump University fraud claims follow Donald Trump on campaign trail"
- New York Daily News: "Trump University was ‘classic’ fraud, says prosecutor"
- The Washington Post: "Donald Trump billed his ‘University’ as a road to riches, but critics call it a fraud"
- The Daily Telegraph (London): "Donald Trump sued for fraud in California and New York"
- Time: "Trump University Was A Scam, Say Former Students: People say they paid $35,000 for next to nothing."
- The National Review: "Did Donald Trump Run a Scam University?"
- Mother Jones: "The 9 Wildest Complaints Against Trump University"
As the last article notes, a lawsuit filed by New York's attorney general alleged that Trump University "repeatedly claimed that prospective students would be taught by successful real estate 'experts' who were 'handpicked' by Donald Trump. In fact, respondents lacked substantiation for the claims that their instructors and mentors were successful real estate entrepreneurs. Not a single one was 'handpicked' by Donald Trump. Many came to Trump University from jobs having little to do with real estate investments, and some came to Trump University shortly after their real estate investing caused them to go into bankruptcy."
Another complaint: "Trump University also claimed that Donald Trump was not profiting from Trump University and founded it solely for philanthropic purposes. According to Trump University speakers, students' payments for the three-day seminars would not go to Donald Trump. In fact, Donald Trump netted about $5 million in profit."
And: "When students reached Trump University's three-day seminar, they learned that contrary to what they had been promised at the free seminars, they were not going to learn everything they needed to know to start investing. Instead they were told they had to purchase additional programs to get the help they would supposedly need -- and that they would fail if they did not continue at Trump University."
Instructors were even said to have "urged students to call their credit card companies during a break in the sessions, requesting increases to their credit limits ... Trump University even provided handouts with scripted talking points for students to use in their phone calls with credit card companies, explicitly encouraging people to falsify their current income ... Trump University misrepresentations regarding credit limits had the effect of damaging students' credit scores, contrary to the claims made at the free seminars that Trump University would help increase students' credit scores."
Keep in mind that the guy behind all this is currently the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for president.