Documents: Trump University Targeted Poor People

| by Robert Fowler
Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpRepublican presidential nominee Donald Trump

Court documents from the pending lawsuit against Trump University reveal the real estate school asked employees to target applicants with troubled financial situations. Former employees gave testimony describing the school as "a fraudulent scheme."

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump established Trump University in 2005. The real estate school was in business until 2010. Trump personally owned 93 percent of the company.

A class-action lawsuit was filed by a collection of students from California who allege that the university did not deliver on its problem and cost them tens of thousands of dollars each.

On May 27, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel signed an order allowing court documents relating to the case to be released to the public. Trump slammed the judge that same day, telling his supporters at a San Diego rally that Curiel was a "hater," Reuters reports.

The business mogul also said he thought Curiel was Mexican, stating that this may be the reason why he would unseal the documents and potentially hurt Trump’s presidential campaign. Curiel was actually born in Indiana.

The documents were unsealed on May 31 and journalists have been poring over all 400 pages. One page revealed that employees were given sales tips asking them to never turn away an applicant based on money, Time magazine reports.

“Money is never a reason for not enrolling in Trump University; if they really believe in you and your product, they will find the money,” the document read. “You are not doing any favor by letting someone use lack of money as an excuse.”

The price of Trump University courses cost between $1,495 and $34,995. The most expensive courses were labeled as the gold elite. The one page urged employees to present the gold elite classes as the only option to applicants with the necessary money.

Employees were also encouraged to seek out applicants with pressing financial troubles.

“Urgency is proportional to pain,” the document reads. “Problems are like health. The more a problem hurts now, the more the need for a solution now. And the more it hurts, the more they’ll be prepared to pay for a speedy solution. It’s got to hurt enough!”

The sales tips given to Trump University employees outlined the ideal customers for members of the sales team to target.

“Are they a single parent of three children that may need money for food?” the document read. “Or are they a middle-aged commuter that is tired of traveling for 2 hours for work each day?”

One of the documents reveals that employees were asked to never make any concrete promises to customers about the effectiveness of the courses.

Former managers of the university gave testimony they were often pressured to procure customers with financial troubles, The New York Times reports.

Sales manager Ronald Schnackenberg testified that he was chided for not pressuring one couple to sign up for a gold elite course despite his fears they would be financially ruined if they paid for the course.

“I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money,” Schnackenberg wrote.

Trump University's former event manager Corrine Sommer testified that she witnessed sales employees encourage applicants to open up lines up credit to pay for the courses. She also recounted that one university instructor had only previously been a jewelry salesman and had “no real estate experience.”

Sources: The New York Times, Reuters, Time / Photo credit: Marc Nozell/Flickr

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