A multimillion dollar digital and television advertising effort has been launched targeting GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and giving voice to victims alleging fraud at Trump University.
American Future Fund, a national group advocating for conservative and free market principles, announced the ad buy Friday, just days before voters in several states will head to the polls to cast their ballots on Super Tuesday.
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The advertisements will feature three individuals who were allegedly ripped off by Trump University, Donald Trump’s controversial real estate education venture that has been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging fraud and deception. One of the lawsuits was filed in 2013 by New York’s attorney general, who said the organization "relied on Trump’s name recognition and celebrity status to take advantage of consumers who believed in the Trump brand."
Between 2005 and 2010, Trump University attracted thousands of individuals by promising to teach real estate success through seminar courses costing between $1,495 and $35,000.
One of the victims, a retiree who paid $35,000 to Trump University, says in an advertisement that he was "duped by the Donald." A single mother in another ad claims that she "made a huge mistake trusting [Trump]" and urges the American public "not to make the same mistake." A third victim, who paid $30,000 to Trump University, says the organization "ruined my credit and ruined my life." He labels Trump a "fraud" in the ad.
The advertisements will be displayed digitally beginning Friday and will appear on television next week.
Trump’s competitors for the nomination have taken aim at him for his relationship to Trump University. Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) criticized the business mogul on the subject during Thursday night’s debate, calling the organization a "fake school."
"There are people who borrowed $36,000 to go to Trump University, and they’re suing now," Rubio said. "And you know what they got? They got to take a picture with a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump."
Trump has brushed off criticisms, saying that he intends to win the lawsuits.
The advertisements will hit airwaves just in time for March 1, when voters in 12 states and one territory will head to the polls.
A spokesman for American Future Fund said in a statement Friday that the Trump University controversy proves that Americans cannot trust Donald Trump.
"The Trump University was a total ripoff–as is described by his victims in their own voices–and demonstrates that America can’t trust Donald Trump," Stuart Roy, the spokesman, said. "These hard-working people learned who ‘The Donald’ really is at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars and ruined lives, and they are speaking up now in the hope that America can learn from their mistakes and avoid suffering the same fate."
Thirty-six percent of likely Republican primary voters do not believe that Trump is honest or trustworthy, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month. Similar concerns about trust have dogged Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, as she continues to endure scrutiny for using a private, unsecured email system to conduct business at the State Department.