Trump University students say they were scammed. They may also have been advised to commit potentially illegal actions by the now-defunct real estate investment course. A detailed review by CNBC and legal experts of the Trump University curriculum shows written advice to students, who paid upward of $36,000 to attend, could have placed students in violation of several state and national real estate and investment laws.
Active from 2005–2010, Trump University was shut down amid questions surrounding its legitimacy and currently faces two class-action lawsuits and a third suit brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Donald Trump is a named defendant alongside the shuttered Trump University, also known as Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.
The curriculum, presented in glossy binders and workbooks, shows that some of the lessons taught and advice given regarding real estate transactions could actually be illegal in several states.
Over the course of several months, we asked more than half a dozen real estate attorneys and experts across the country, from Florida to Oregon to California to New York, to weigh in on the content within the curriculum chapters. In several instances, they said, the advice went against the law in their respective states.
At the most basic level, the curriculum was not designed to conform to the specific requirements of real estate investing, which differ from state to state. Instead, it was, as Trump Organization lawyer Jill Martin told CNBC during a brief phone call, a "national level" curriculum.
Emails to the Trump campaign were referred to the Trump Organization, though it is not a named defendant in the lawsuits. The Trump campaign did not respond to specific questions about the curriculum and potential legal violations. Martin, vice president and assistant general counsel, litigation and employment at The Trump Organization, emphasized that the courses were really built around the live seminars in which she said students were told to consult with local real estate attorneys.