Part of Hillary Clinton’s attack plan against Donald Trump (other than ripping his foreign policy approach) has involved an attack on his business prowess. Trump prides himself on the way he’s managed several (failed) businesses, and because he has no public service experience, this is the only accurate measure of his trustworthiness. So, Clinton wound up earlier this week with a tweetstorm about the allegedly fraudulent ways of Trump University, and there’s surely more to come.
The media has also done their part in digging into the sketchy sales practices of the school and abysmal experiences of students. The case will go to trial during the GOP convention, and voters will hear stories from people who were talked into spending their life savings for false promises. Of course, it’s true that education is no guarantee of a future, and Trump University may not be guiltier than any other for-profit educational institution, but this story goes a long way into examining Trump’s trustworthiness. The man is running for president, so this is a relevant discussion to hold.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been raising his own national profile. He’s on a crusade to save women and children from President Obama’s trans bathroom directive, which he believes is Obama’s way of rewriting the whole Civil Rights Act. He also compared trans rights to the moon landing, which is odd, to say the least. Now, the media is picking up on another Abbott related story, which shows his questionable ties with Trump, which date back to the beginning of this decade.
The Dallas Morning News published some telling details about then-Attorney General Abbott’s tenure. In 2010, he pursued a lawsuit from Texas taxpayers, who claimed to have been defrauded of $2.6 million by Trump University. The administration regularly dug into for-profit schools, so they interviewed former Trump University students and sent undercover investigators to seminars. The lawsuit mysteriously disappeared, and Abbott shuttered the investigation. What happened? No one knows for sure, but Trump later donated significant sums to Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign. The paper spoke to John Owens, who worked as deputy chief of consumer protection for Abbott, and a war of words broke out:
“The decision not to sue him was political,” John Owens told The Dallas Morning News. “Had [Trump] not been involved in politics to the extent he was at the time, we would have gotten approval. Had he been just some other scam artist, we would have sued him.”
Abbott’s communications director, Matt Hirsch, responded to Owens’ allegations late Thursday, saying, “The Texas Attorney General’s office investigated Trump U and its demands were met – Trump U was forced out of Texas and consumers were protected. It’s absurd to suggest any connection between a case that has been closed and a donation to Governor Abbott four years later.”
The lawsuit had asked for the return of $2.6 million that Texas taxpayers wasted on Trump University and an extra $2.8 million in penalties. Yet the suit was dumped by Abbott’s administration, presumably in exchange for $35,000 in political donations from Trump himself. Further findings from the Texas investigators are damning. They detailed how course materials include “legally and ethically questionable real estate investment strategies,” including how to “target home sellers in financial turmoil.” That tidbit doesn’t even touch the “Gold Elite” classes that cost $35,000, which — coincidentally — is the same amount Trump donated to Abbott’s future campaign.
As a kicker, Trump University wasn’t even authorized to do business in Texas. This is yuge!
Just as this story was heating up, ABC News released even more evidence of fraud from Trump University. Students were reportedly advised to inflate their income by $75,000 when applying for credit cards. This encourages bank fraud, and former New York County District Attorney’s Office fraud bureau head John W. Moscow says that encouraging such false representations “might be an appropriate target for prosecution.”