NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- Business magnate Donald Trump, in response to a lawsuit filed against him and his Trump University by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, called the state's top lawyer a "political hack" and said he's just looking for publicity.
This weekend, Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Trump and the Trump Entrepreneur Institute, formerly known as Trump University LLC, for allegedly engaging in deceptive and illegal conduct.
The school, the attorney general alleges, operated as an unlicensed educational institute between 2005 and 2011.
Schneiderman contends the school promised to teach Trump's real estate investing techniques to consumers around the U.S. but allegedly misled consumers into paying for expensive courses that failed to deliver.
Trump, in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, called the institute a "terrific school."
"It's done a fantastic job," he said in the interview. "'We have a 98 percent approval rating among students."
Trump contends that Schneiderman was upset the businessman -- and reality television star -- refused to give him more campaign contributions.
As to whether he'd settle with the attorney general, Trump said no. He said he's ready to fight.
"I don't mind bad publicity," he told Stephanopoulos. "I don't want to settle this at all."
The lawsuit against Trump, the Trump Entrepreneur Institute and Michael Sexton, the school's former president, alleges the defendants advertised the school with false claims, including the claim that consumers would learn from Trump's hand-picked instructors.
Schneiderman alleges that Trump did not hand-pick even one instructor for the seminars and had little to no role in developing the school's curriculum.
The school also used the name Trump University without the necessary charter under state law to call itself a university, the attorney general claims.
"More than 5,000 people across the country who paid Donald Trump $40 million to teach them his hard sell tactics got a hard lesson in bait-and-switch," Schneiderman said in a statement Saturday.
"Mr. Trump used his celebrity status and personally appeared in commercials making false promises to convince people to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn't afford for lessons they never got.
"No one, no matter how rich or popular they are, has a right to scam hardworking New Yorkers. Anyone who does should expect to be held accountable."
According to the Attorney General's Office, the defendants allegedly used three-day seminars to pitch consumers an expensive Trump Elite mentorship program costing between $10,000 and $35,000.
Many consumers who paid for the elite mentorship program allegedly did not receive the individual mentor attention that was promised, according to Schneiderman's lawsuit.
The defendants also violated federal consumer protection law by failing to honor consumers' requests to cancel the programs within three business days, the attorney general alleges.
Schneiderman's lawsuit seeks full restitution for the more than 5,000 consumers who took part in the program who paid more than $40 million in total to the school.
The lawsuit also seeks disgorgement of profits, penalties and costs and injunctive relief to prevent the allegedly illegal practices in the future.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.