Donald Trump personally approved many of the duplicitous ads that misrepresented his now-shuttered and heavily-litigated for-profit university and may have even been integrally involved in crafting some of the deceitful scripts that school reps used to con prospective students, depositions by former Trump University staffers unsealed by a federal judge show.
Testimony by Michael Sexton, the former president of Trump University, shows that the presumptive GOP nominee and bombastic businessman was deeply involved in planning various marketing materials and personally gave his OK “any time we had a new ad.”
“He wanted to see how his brand and image were portrayed in Trump University marketing materials. And he had very good and substantive input as well,” Sexton said in a 2012 deposition, one of many documents unsealed Tuesday by the California federal court judge hearing a national class action case against the university, which shuttered in 2010.
His comments, as well as testimony from former Trump University staffers Ronald Schnackenberg and Corinne Sommer, show Trump’s level of direct involvement in bilking thousands of students out of millions of dollars in tuition costs — which could run as high as $35,000 — and indicate he could have partaken in crafting the intricate playbooks, also unsealed this week, that showed school reps how to convince potential students to sign up for the pricey courses.
Schnackenberg, in his own testimony unsealed Tuesday, said the school’s actions amounted to “misleading, fraudulent and dishonest practices.”
Representatives often “preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money” in trying to bait them into signing up for the expensive courses, alleged Schnackenberg, who resigned in 2007 after working for the school for less than one year.
Sommer, who worked for the controversial school as an events manager for six months in 2007, said she saw much of the same during her tenure, too.
“In my experience, the focus of Trump University was on making sales rather than on providing quality educational services,” she wrote in her own sworn deposition from 2012, also unsealed this week.
“Trump University would lure consumers into the initial free course based upon the name and reputation of Donald Trump, and then once they were there, Trump University personnel would try to up-sell consumers to the next course using high-pressure sales tactics,” she claimed, adding that “many of the speakers the speakers, instructors, and mentors” employed by Trump University “lacked real estate experience.”
“Many of them did not even own houses, and had no experience buying or selling real estate,” she wrote, drawing attention to one particular instructor, David Stamper, who despite working only as a “jewelry salesman” was working as a seminar instructor for the school just one year after he began working on the sales team, according to Sommer.
Sommer further alleged that none of the teachers were picked by Trump himself — which marketing materials, as well as Trump himself, has explicitly claimed.