The emails were dug up by Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, and show that then-AG Greg Abbott's office opened a deceptive trade practices investigation of the seminars, which cost thousands and purported to teach real estate newbies "everything they need to know to be a successful residential restate broker — in 3 days." (Which seems reasonable to us. Our general rule of thumb is: If you can't learn it in three days, it ain't worth knowing, and that includes cardiovascular surgery.)
But Assistant Attorney General Rick Berlin told Donald Trump's lawyers that "the promises made to students were 'virtually impossible to achieve'" and that the information covered "is essentially unusable," according to the story.
"The investigation apparently never went further than the exchange of emails and documents between the AG’s office and Trump’s lawyers. In a May 2010 email, Trump lawyer Michelle Lokey said 'it was never our client’s intent to deceive Texas consumers' and 'nothing about the either the workshops or the materials presented at the workshops is, in fact, deceptive or misleading.'
Lokey also promised that Trump University "will of course continue to honor its commitment to you and will continue to suspend its workshops in Texas while we address the remaining issues with your office." Apparently, the program was never un-suspended.
A Trump spokeswoman told USA Today that the seminars were totally not a scam:
“'Trump University was a professionally run company which provided students with a valuable and substantive education and the tools to succeed in business and real estate....'Those students that applied these strategies, were overwhelmingly satisfied and many were able to make substantial profits. Trump University did not promise, nor was its curriculum designed to teach students to become a real estate broker.'”
So, a seminar that purported to teach people "everything they need to know to be a successful residential real estate broker" was not designed to teach students to become real estate brokers. We can see why someone might get confused.
Interestingly, six years after Abbott's office ran out Trump U., Abbott gave a not-so-veiled endorsement of The Donald. We're glad those two made up.
For more details, check out the Houston Chronicle's in-depth look.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.