Texas Governor Greg Abbott received a $35,000 donation for his successful gubernatorial campaign from Donald Trump, the Associated Press revealed. Trump’s donation to Abbott’s campaign has garnered significant attention, because the donation followed right after Abbott helped drop fraud inquiries on Trump University back in 2010.
The Republican governor, who was serving as Texas Attorney General at the time, had initially opened a civil investigation on the “possibly deceptive trade practices” of Trump University. The investigation was later dropped after Trump University had agreed to end its operations in Texas. 3 years after dropping the investigation, Abbott received donations totalling $35,000 from Donald Trump.
It is not unusual for Politicians to receive campaign donations from businessmen. And Donald Trump has donated to other campaigns as well in the past. However, in this particular case, the donation followed after the receiver helped in the withdrawal of a probe on the donor’s organization. Another fact that makes this particular case unique is that this is the only major donation that Donald Trump has made to a Texas politician in years. Greg Abbott has since endorsed Donald Trump.
In response to these allegations, Matt Hirsch, spokesman for the Texas Governor, argued that Abbott had done his job well by forcing a bad business out of the state and protecting the consumers.
“The unthinkable has happened – the media’s obsession with Donald Trump is now leading them to highlight the job then-Attorney General Abbott did in protecting Texas consumers.”
“The Texas Attorney General’s office investigated Trump U and its demands were met. Trump U was forced out of Texas and consumers were protected.”
Hirsch further argued that Trump’s subsequent donation did not influence Abbott’s actions and that the $35,000 donation was only a small part of a total $40 million raised for the campaign.
Abbott’s reasoning, however, is a little hard to digest given how easily the case was dropped after all the painstaking measures his office had taken to put the case together.
The investigation started in the fall of 2009, as a response to an advertisement by Trump University published in the Chronicle. For almost 7 months after that, investigators from the Texas Attorney General’s office extensively probed the for-profit real estate training program. For this, the investigators interviewed several dozen students, requested and processed hundreds of documents and even went undercover to attend seminars. In May 2010, they concluded that Trump U was partaken in false advertisement, and recommended that the Texas Attorney General’s office sue them for $5.4 million.
However, immediately after the conclusion of the investigation, Trump University left Texas and no lawsuit was filed by the Attorney General’s office. This decision not to sue did not sit well with the investigators. John Owens, then the deputy chief of the Attorney General’s office’s consumer protection division, said that the investigators involved were shocked by the uncontested dismissal of the lawsuit. Owens subsequently retired in 2011, after 20 years at the office.
“The case was closed and all the Texas consumers were left high and dry. We were a little shocked.”
Trump University may have escaped the Texas probe, but it is still the target of two other major lawsuits, one in San Diego and another in New York. Trump University has been accused of duping students into believing that they will be taught the secrets of succeeding in the real estate business. Donald Trump himself has claimed that these allegations on Trump U are wrong and has cited a survey that shows 98 percent of its students reporting that they are happy with the results. But, this particular survey targeted students who have yet to fully experience the course. Also, it was not an anonymous survey.
Trump University has a 98% approval rating. I could have settled but won’t out of principle!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 29, 2016
Trump University employed instructors with no experience and lied to sell outrageously expensive packages. In a word: fraud.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 1, 2016
[Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images]