The New York State attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit Saturday against Donald Trump for $40 million, claiming his for-profit investment school engaged in illegal business practices. The suit, which seeks damages for at least $40 million, claims Trump, the Trump Organization and others involved in the school that was once known as “Trump University” were involved in “an elaborate bait-and-switch,” reports the New York Times.
Trump shot back against Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, saying the lawsuit was false and politically motivated, the result of the mogul’s refusal to give him campaign donations. Scheniderman, however, insists Trump used his celebrity to get more than 5,000 people across the country to sign up for classes that were really sales pitches for more expensive classes. “Trump University engaged in deception at every stage of consumers’ advancement through costly programs and caused real financial harm,” Schneiderman said, according to the Associated Press. “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.”
In the ads touting the free workshop at his “university” (education officials forced Trump to stop calling it a university and it was renamed the Trump Entrepreneur Institute in 2011), Trump said he hand-picked instructors, but the lawsuit claims the real estate mogul never chose a single teacher. And the free seminars were really just a sales pitch to get people to sign up for a $1,495 three-day seminar, which, in turn was mostly a sales pitch for a “Trump elite mentorship program” that cost between $10,000 to $35,000 per person, notes the New York Daily News.