(NaturalNews) "The Donald" is under fire again, this time from his home state of New York.
The state attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, is suing Donald Trump for $40 million, claiming that the real estate billionaire is running a phony institute of higher learning - "Trump University" - which promised to make students wealthy but has instead "steered them into expensive and mostly useless seminars, and even failed to deliver promised apprenticeships," Fox News reported.
Trump says the lawsuit filed by Schneiderman, who is a Democrat (Trump leans Republican), is just politically motivated.
Schneiderman says a number of the 5,000 students, who paid as much as $35,000 to attend, believed that would at least meet Trump. Instead, he says, all the students got was their picture taken in front of a life-size picture of the mogul, who is also the star of "The Apprentice" TV show.
"Trump University engaged in deception at every stage of consumers' advancement through costly programs and caused real financial harm," Schneiderman said. "Trump University, with Donald Trump's knowledge and participation, relied on Trump's name recognition and celebrity status to take advantage of consumers who believed in the Trump brand."
Trump's attorney, however, says Schneiderman tried to extort campaign contributions from Trump through his investigation of him. Trump attorney Michael D. Cohen told The Associated Press that the attorney general's suit is replete with false accusations. In particular, Cohen says Trump and his university never committed fraud against anyone.
Per Fox News:
He said Trump University provided nearly 11,000 testimonials to Schneiderman from students praising the program and said 98 percent of students in a survey termed the program "excellent."
"The attorney general has been angry because he felt that Mr. Trump and his various companies should have done much more for him in terms of fundraising," Cohen said. "This entire investigation is politically motivated and it is a tremendous waste of taxpayers' money."
According to the State Board of Elections, Trump spent some $136,000 on New York state campaigns since 2010. In particular, he gave $12,500 to Schneiderman in October 2010, when Schneiderman was vying for the attorney general post. A conservative himself, Trump considered a presidential bid last year.
Cohen says his client isn't about to roll over.
"Donald Trump will not sit back and be extorted by anyone, including the attorney general," Cohen said.
According to the suit, many of the aspiring real-estate moguls did not land even one deal and in the end were far worse off than before their instruction. It said many students now face "thousands of dollars in debt for the seminar program once billed as a top quality university with Trump's 'hand-picked' instructors," as reported by Fox News.
'The fact that he's still brave enough...'
The AG's suit targets the program, Trump personally as the university's chairman, and the former president of the institution in a case that will be handled by the state Supreme Court in Manhattan. Schneiderman is accusing the parties of engaging in serial fraud, illegal conduct, deception and violations of federal consumer protection laws. The $40 million he seeks will be used mostly to pay restitution to student customers.
The AG's office also dismissed Trump's claim that the case is about political intimidation.
"The fact that he's still brave enough to follow the investigation wherever it may lead speaks to Mr. Schneiderman's character," spokesman Andrew Friedman told The Associated Press.
Other reports said that state education department officials informed Trump years ago to change the name of his institution, saying he did not have a license for and did not meet the legal definitions of a university. In 2011, he renamed it Trump Entrepreneur Institute, but he nevertheless remained saddled with complaints by consumers and isolated civil lawsuits claiming that the institute did not perform as advertised.
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