GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has claimed now-defunct Trump University had a 98% approval rating and received “beautiful” evaluations.
However, three ex-students of the real estate-investing school have told The New York Times they were coerced into giving Trump U positive reviews.
By saying past participants gave glowing reviews, Trump has batted away attempts by his GOP presidential competitors to attack him for the three lawsuits he’s facing over the school.
But John Brown, Jeffrey Tufenkian, and Robert Guillo all told The New York Times the approval ratings they gave were, to varying degrees, forced out of them.
“Tired of the continuing phone calls, I finally gave in,” Brown said.
Guillo gave a high mark to a teacher because the employee begged for it, he told The Times.
“It’s absolutely a con,” Guillo, who spent $36,000 on Trump University classes and later requested a refund, he told the Times. “The role of the evaluations were a defence against any legal actions. They anticipated those actions.”
A website set up in defence of Trump University, 98percentapproval.com, has published thousands of evaluations, but the Times found that more than 3,000 came from free guests who attended classes alongside paying members while another 2,000 never finished the course work.
Trump’s lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, disagrees with the sentiment of the three students quoted by the Times. He did not immediately return a request for comment from Business Insider
“Folks were not coerced,” he told the Times. “It’s completely implausible to suggest that the 10,000 reviews from the students and their guests were the result of pressure or coercion. They gave overwhelmingly positive reviews because they were being honest about their assessment.”
Recently, the Better Business Bureau released a detailed statement on Trump University claiming the program fluctuated from as low as a D- rating in 2010 to an A+ in 2015, which the BBB said was because it’s now defunct.
“As the company appeared to be winding down, after 2013, no new complaints were reported,” the statement read. “Complaints over three years old automatically rolled off of the Business Review, according to BBB policy. As a result, over time, Trump University’s BBB rating went to an A in July 2014 and then to an A+ in January 2015.”
Two of the lawsuits Trump faces were filed by former students, with one being pursued as a nationwide class-action suit. The third comes from the New York attorney general.
He’s accused of defrauding thousands with worthless classes on real estate and investing.
Trump said he’d “easily win this case when it comes to court. I look forward to it,” in a recently released video on the lawsuits.
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