The Trump University case could yank the Donald from the campaign

26 February 2016 1:25 pm

Donald Trump is listed in court records as a witness for both sides of a fraud case concerning his now-defunct Trump University, reports Politico.

The trial date is set for some time after May 6. This is smack bang in the middle of the campaign with May primaries scheduled in states such as Nebraska, West Virginia, Oregon and Washington and California's is June 7.

Trump University was not a degree-granting school. There was no campus. It had a different pitch: no need for degrees, just do what I did and get rich! So instead it ran real estate seminars that critics have called a useless and expensive fraud, with some students paying thousands of dollars in hopes of making a fortune.

By 2013, the New York Attorney General’s office filed a $40 million lawsuit over the “scam” on behalf of 5000 allegedly defrauded students. Trump and the university are also subject to a class action law suit

MarketWatch has a great summary of the allegations in the court documents.

“The court documents, filed in federal court in California, claim that Trump University used radio and newspaper ads to draw students to free seminars with radio and newspaper ads promising access to instructors and information that made Trump a success. Once they got there, they were urged by speakers flanked by banners of Trump to sign up for a “one year apprenticeship” program, offering “a comprehensive real estate education” as well as access to mentors for a year, at the cost of $1,495, the documents claim.

"The one-year program turned out to be a three-day seminar aimed at convincing students to pay $34,995 for a “full education,” the lawsuit alleges. During the program, students were told to raise their credit card limits by four times so they could purchase property. However, the students were then asked to use the increased credit to buy the “Gold Program” seminar, the documents claim. Students were told that participating in this program would give them access to mentors and deals that would teach them how to earn up to tens of thousands of dollars a month doing real-estate investing, the lawsuit claims. Instead, few deals materialized and mentors disappeared after two days looking at properties and a half day trip to Home Depot, according to court documents.

“Tarla Makaeff, the lead plaintiff in the case, spent nearly $60,000 to pay for Trump University products over the course of one year, the lawsuit claims. What she got in return were two offers for real estate deals that were “flawed” and “appeared unprofitable,” the lawsuit says.”

The students told the New York Daily News they had been scammed.

That sounds terrible but I suspect many of the people taken in by this scam would have been Trump voters. Trump’s message was clearly tailored for people who felt they had been left behind by the country’s economy of the past decade—or who were concerned they will be left behind in the future. Many would earn less than $50,000. And that is Trump's constituency.

So who exactly is to blame here? Still, it will be interesting to see what impact this will have on Trump’s campaign.