Lawsuit Exposes How Trump University 'PlayBook' Schooled Thousands

Lawsuit alleges The Donald swindled millions out of students with his eponymous institute


A class-action lawsuit against Donald Trump alleges that the real estate mogul and colleagues swindled millions of dollars from people who sought to learn The Don’s real estate secrets by enrolling in his eponymous Trump University. Here’s a breakdown of the allegations in the racketeering lawsuit, brought by a California man last month, who says the institute (which is now closed) bilked him out of more than $36,000.

  1. Not an accredited university. Though it may have charged similar rates to actual colleges for what the institute called the “full education,” Trump University had no sprawling campus. More importantly than dining halls and a quad, though, the New York State Education Department had warned Trump in 2005 that the institute was operating without the required license to call itself a “University.”

  2. Upselling at every turn. Attendees of the free introductory seminar were pitched costly programs at every turn. First, students — a “significant” number of whom were senior citizens — were persuaded to sign up for a $1,495 three-day workshop, then they were pitched a $35,000 “Gold Elite” program. The endless upselling could have cost students who bought into it all more than $70,000. Trump “literally had a PlayBook for his scheme … (containing) a chart depicting the upsell scheme executed across the country,” which even told instructors how to prepare the room, right down to setting a specific temperature.

  3. Thousands take the bait. Trump advertised that his handpicked “Team of Trump Experts” knew the secrets to making it big in the real estate market and you could too. One piece of mail read: “Come to my free class. In just 90 minutes, my hand-picked instructors will share my techniques, which took my entire career to develop.” But it was a lie. Trump didn’t handpick instructors. “In most cases, Defendant Trump did not even know who the instructors or mentors were, nor had he met them.”

  4. Teachers” paid to sell, sell, sell. What’s a pseudo university without a pseudo staff? Though Trump University made advertising claims that students would be lectured by a group of “professors and adjunct professors,” the instructors were in fact salespeople whose sole objective was to sign people up for more events — that’s how they got paid. In the PlayBook, the students were referred to as ‘buyers” and instructors asked them if they wanted to leave a legacy to their grandchildren and encouraged them to charge programs on their credit cards because they would “quickly make their money back.”

  5. Secrets kept secret. Despite advertising that leaned heavily on Trump’s celebrity — like the message “Are YOU My Next Apprentice? Prove it to me!” — Trump “did not contribute in any meaningful way to the curriculum” of the institute. Thousands of students paid thousands of dollars on the premise that they would learn the “insider success secrets from Donald Trump.” But in the end, The Donald’s secrets remained his own.

The class-action lawsuit seeks to recoup money for anyone who purchased an event from Trump University dating back to Jan. 1 2007. Meanwhile a ruling last month in a similar lawsuit brought by New York State Attorney Eric T. Schneiderman found Trump personally liable for operating the institute without the required license. The case is ongoing.

Trump has maintained his innocence throughout. After Schneiderman filed the lawsuit last year, Trump launched a website where he called the allegations “baseless” and questioned the integrity of the attorney general. Now, Trump says he’s considering reopening the institute.




North Carolina Charter-School Chain Can’t Keep Administrator Salaries Secret

The schools’ management company, which receives millions in public funds each year from the schools, says that the salaries paid to school administrators should be considered a trade secret


The North Carolina State Board of Education has issued a warning to a charter-school chain for failing to comply with an agency order to disclose the salaries of school administrators. The schools have been put on "financial probationary status," which could lead to sanctions if their board does not comply within 10 business days.


This is the same charter-school chain, Charter Day School, Inc., that ProPublica wrote about last month. As we reported, the four charter schools channel millions in public education dollars each year to for-profit companies owned by the schools' founder, businessman Baker Mitchell. One of the for-profit companies, Roger Bacon Academy, is paid to run all the day-to-day operations of the schools. As we wrote:


Roger Bacon Academy functions as the schools' administrative arm, taking the lead in hiring and firing school staff.

It handles most of the bookkeeping. The treasurer of the nonprofit that controls the four schools is also t he chief financial officer of Mitchell's management company. The two organizations even share a bank account.

Mitchell's management company was chosen by the schools' nonprofit board, which Mitchell was on at the time — an arrangement that is illegal in many other states.


Charter schools, which are privately run but government-funded, often outsource back-office functions to private companies. At issue between North Carolina and Mitchell's charter-school chain is the extent to which regulators can demand to know what happens to public dollars once they move into the coffers of a private company.


State officials say they have the right to ask for information related to the schools' activities and programs – and that includes salaries of any employees assigned to work at them. Other charter schools in North Carolina have complied and turned over this information. Mitchell's schools are the only ones that have not.


In an earlier response to regulators, the schools' board chairman, John Ferrante, stated that the schools are "contractually bound to preserve [the management company's] trade secrets." He also said that the nonprofit does not actually have the salary information for management company employees.


In a letter sent by the management company to Ferrante, Mitchell's company said it would turn over the salary information so long as regulators sign an agreement to recognize the information as confidential and exempt it from public disclosure.


Through Ferrante, Mitchell declined to comment on regulators' latest demand for salary information.


On his blog and in earlier interviews with ProPublica, Baker Mitchell has maintained that private companies operating charter schools should not have to be transparent about their financials or publicly disclose what they pay their employees.




Major changes in the New Council of Ministers

The Modi government has made many important changes to the ministers’ portfolios, some of which may have gone unnoticed


The Narendra Modi government announced the induction of 21 new ministers to the council of ministers on Sunday. However, apart from these inductions, Modi has made extensive changes to the portfolios of existing ministers too, which may have gone unnoticed. While the major changes such as the induction of Manohar Parrikar as the Minister of Defence and Suresh Prabhu as the Railway Minister have caught the headlines, another major change was Arun Jaitley getting additional charge of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) apart from Finance and Corporate Affairs. I&B was earlier held by Prakash Jawadekar. Former Army Chief Minister of State Gen. VK Singh has been moved from Northeast Development to Statistics and Programme Implementation and continues with his earlier portfolio of External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs. Nirmala Sitharaman has been divested of her Minister of State position of finance and also corporate affairs. Jayant Sinha, son of former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha comes in as Minister of State for Finance.



Here is the full list of the latest council of ministers…




1. Rajnath Singh: Home Affairs


2. Sushma Swaraj: External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs


3. Arun Jaitley: Finance, Corporate Affairs, Information & Broadcasting


4. M Venkaiah Naidu: Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Parliamentary Affairs


5. Nitin Jairam Gadkari: Road Transport and Highways, Shipping


6. Manohar Parrikar: Defence


7. Suresh Prabhu: Railways


8. DV Sadananda Gowda: Law & Justice


9. Uma Bharati: Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation


10. Dr Najma A Heptulla: Minority Affairs


11. Ramvilas Paswan: Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution


12. Kalraj Mishra: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises


13. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi: Women and Child Development


14. Ananthkumar: Chemicals and Fertilizers


15. Ravi Shankar Prasad: Communications and Information Technology


16. Jagat Prakash Nadda: Health & Family Welfare


17. Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati: Civil Aviation


18. Anant Geete: Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises


19. Harsimrat Kaur Badal: Food Processing Industries


20. Narendra Singh Tomar: Mines, Steel


21. Chaudhary Birender Singh: Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation


22. Jual Oram: Tribal Affairs


23. Radha Mohan Singh: Agriculture


24. Thaawar Chand Gehlot: Social Justice and Empowerment


25. Smriti Zubin Irani: Human Resource Development


26. Dr Harsh Vardhan: Science and Technology, Earth Sciences




27. Gen VK Singh: Statistics and Programme Implementation (Independent Charge), External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs


28. Inderjit Singh Rao: Planning (Independent Charge), Defence


29. Santosh Kumar Gangwar: Textiles (Independent Charge)


30. Bandaru Dattatreya: Labour and Employment (Independent Charge)


31. Rajiv Pratap Rudy: Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (Independent Charge), Parliamentary Affairs


32. Shripad Yesso Naik: AAYUSH (Independent Charge), Health & Family Welfare


33. Dharmendra Pradhan: Petroleum and Natural Gas (Independent Charge)


34. Sarbananda Sonowal: Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge)


35. Prakash Javadekar: Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge)


36. Piyush Goyal: Power (Independent Charge), Coal (Independent Charge), New and Renewable Energy (Independent Charge)


37. Dr Jitendra Singh: Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge), Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space


38. Nirmala Sitharaman: Commerce and Industry (Independent Charge)


39. Dr Mahesh Sharma: Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge), Civil Aviation


40. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi: Minority Affairs, Parliamentary Affairs


41. Ram Kripal Yadav: Drinking Water & Sanitation


42. Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary: Home Affairs


43. Sanwar Lal Jat: Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation


44. Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya: Agriculture


45. Giriraj Singh: Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises


46. Hansraj Gangaram Ahir: Chemicals & Fertilizers


47. GM Siddeshwara: Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises


48. Manoj Sinha: Railways


49. Nihalchand: Panchayati Raj


50. Upendra Kushwaha: Human Resource Development


51. Radhakrishnan P.: Road Transport & Highways, Shipping


52. Kiren Rijiju: Home Affairs


53. Krishan Pal: Social Justice & Empowerment


54. Dr Sanjeev Kumar Balyan: Agriculture


55. Manuskhbhai Dhanjibhai Vasava: Tribal Affairs


56. Raosaheb Dadarao Danve: Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution


57. Vishnu Deo Sai: Mines, Steel


58. Sudarshan Bhagat: Rural Development


59. Prof (Dr) Ram Shankar Katheria: Human Resource Development


60. YS Chowdary: Science and Technology, Earth Science


61. Jayant Sinha: Finance


62. Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore: Information & Broadcasting


63. Babul Supria (Babul Supriyo) Baral: Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation


64. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti: Food Processing Industries


65. Vijay Sampla: Social Justice & Empowerment


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