Report: Trump to file ethics complaint against N.Y. AG

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Dec 3, 2013

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- Business magnate Donald Trump is expected to file a state ethics complaint against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Tuesday.

Jeffrey Goldman, Trump's lawyer, told The New York Daily News Monday that the complaint will be filed with the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics in retaliation against the lawsuit the attorney general brought against Trump in August.

Schneiderman sued 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.

The attorney general 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, Schneiderman 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," the attorney general said in a statement in August.

"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.

Trump has brushed off the legal wranglings, claiming Schneiderman, in particular, is a "political hack" and is just looking for publicity.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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