Trump U staff included drug trafficker, molester
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump says he hand-picked only the best to teach success at Trump University. But dozens of those hired by the company had checkered pasts — including serious financial problems and even convictions for cocaine trafficking or child molestation, an Associated Press investigation has found.
The AP identified 107 people listed as speakers and staff on more than 21,000 pages of customer-satisfaction surveys the Republican presidential nominee has released as part of his defense against three lawsuits.
Trump and his attorneys have said repeatedly that the surveys show the overwhelming majority of participants were satisfied. However, the suits allege his namesake real-estate seminars were a massive fraud designed to “upsell” students into buying course packages costing as much as $35,000.
As a candidate, Trump has said he will run the U.S. government like he runs his businesses. So his past hiring practices could offer insight into how a President Trump might fill scores of key federal positions.
Some names from the surveys were too common to narrow down to individuals, but AP was able to use online resumes, court filings and other public records to piece together detailed background checks on 68 former Trump staffers. The results could complicate Trump’s legal defense that his Trump University “apprentices” got the top-flight instructors and mentors they paid for.
Half the 68 former faculty and staff identified by AP had personal bankruptcies, foreclosures, credit card defaults, tax liens or other indicators of significant money troubles prior to teaching Trump University courses promoting “wealth building” and “how to invest like a billionaire,” according to AP’s review. Many of those hired to teach did not have college degrees and were not licensed to broker real estate.
At least four had been convicted of felonies.
They include Ron P. Broussard Jr., who was hired to the Trump University staff in 2007 after years serving as a motivational speaker at get-rich-quick seminars taught in hotel conference rooms. Broussard is listed as “staff” or “coordinator” for at least five Trump courses.
Records show the former Army sergeant was convicted at court-martial in 1994 of sodomy and indecent acts with a child. He served five years in the military prison at Leavenworth, Kansas.
Broussard, who now lives in Duluth, Georgia, is a registered sex offender. He told AP that his conviction involved the 8-year-old daughter of a fellow soldier.
“Those were trumped-up charges,” said Broussard, 48. “She said that I fondled her and was trying to have relations with her.”
In a 2005 video targeted at prospective students, Trump said he personally vetted those hired to run his seminars.
“At Trump University we teach success,” Trump said. “We are going to have the best of the best. … These are all people that are hand-picked by me.”
Trump University ceased operations in 2010 amid mounting complaints from former students and inquiries from state regulators.
Timothy C. Gorsline, who taught at least eight Trump University seminars in 2008, pleaded no contest a decade earlier to felony cocaine possession, according to an electronic database of Florida court records.