The Big Conversation
Amid heightened scrutiny this week of the business practices at Trump University, an investigation of the school by then Attorney General Greg Abbott six years ago is likewise drawing second looks by media outlets across the state.
In 2010, Abbott opened an investigation after the school racked up 30 complaints over two years. Before the probe was completed, the real-estate seminar business had pulled out of the state, leaving behind scores of students who had been enticed by the Trump brand.
Abbott’s investigation brought up many of the same questions Donald Trump’s now-defunct endeavor has faced during the ongoing presidential race, according to the Tribune’s Patrick Svitek.
In a speech, Hillary Clinton said Trump is “trying to scam America” as he did with students at Trump University. Trump “has said he will prevail in class-action lawsuits against the business and on Thursday took his confidence a step further, pledging to re-open Trump University if he becomes president,” Svitek wrote.
Texas’ probe into Trump University was never fully realized due to the business’ abrupt departure. However, Abbott’s office at one point found the school’s claims appeared to be “virtually impossible to achieve.”
"A former deputy chief of Abbott's consumer protection division, John Owens, claims that his bosses nixed a request to sue Trump University for illegal business practices,” Svitek wrote. "A memo, dated May 11, 2010 and provided to the Tribune and other news organizations, show that Owens and his colleagues wanted to ask Trump University for a $5.4 million settlement.”
Owens said the lawsuit was swept under the rug.
More than three years after the business closed up shop in Texas, Trump made two contributions to Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign – one for $25,000 in July 2013 and the other for $10,000 in May 2014 – Trump's only substantial venture into Texas politics. Critics of the governor in the state Democratic Party said Thursday that Abbott is "on the corrupt Trump payroll."
"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,” said Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch.
Trib Must Reads
In Texas, State Offers Little Help with Zika Prevention, by Edgar Walters – Record rainfalls and the mosquitoes they've spawned have state health officials urging Texans to protect themselves from mosquito bites. But the state is not helping counties coordinate or pay for those protective measures.
Analysis: With General Election Looming, GOP Forms Line at Bathrooms, by Ross Ramsey – The transgender bathroom issue — not even a blip on most political radars six weeks ago — is becoming, with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s nurturing, something for Republicans to talk about when they tire of arguing about the presidential race.
UCLA Shooting Rekindles Campus Carry Debate, by Matthew Watkins – Supporters of Texas' new campus carry law say the shooting at UCLA exemplifies how banning guns on campus only deters law-abiding people. Opponents say it shows why guns shouldn't be allowed on campus.
Straus Orders Texas House To Study School Finance, by Kiah Collier – Citing a recent Texas Supreme Court decision that upheld the state’s public school funding system while deeming it “undeniably imperfect," state House Speaker Joe Straus on Thursday ordered representatives to study the school finance system.
More than 300 Gubernatorial Appointees Have Expired Terms, by Ross Ramsey – Gov. Greg Abbott has made hundreds of appointments since he took office in January 2015, but is still working his way out of a backlog to replace people whose terms expired as long as five years ago.
The Day Ahead
• Join Tribune CEO Evan Smith at the Austin Club at 8 a.m. for a conversation with Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton. For those unable to attend the event in person, watch the livestream on the Tribune's website.
(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)
On gun violence awareness day, some advocates look for common ground, The Dallas Morning News
Houston-area commuters paying nation's third-highest 'sprawl tax', Houston Chronicle
Texas Republican Donors Slow To Support Trump, Houston Public Media
Amid Dawnna Dukes probe, African-American festival is canceled, Austin American-Statesman
Woman's jail death under investigation, Harris County sheriff says, Houston Chronicle
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan says he will vote for Trump; Clinton says Trump would endanger America, The Dallas Morning News
Slaying of Haruka Weiser prompted email outcry from UT parents, alumni, Austin American-Statesman
Zookeeper who raised slain gorilla says death was no-win situation, San Antonio Express News
Quote to Note
"Donald Trump will peel her skin off in a debate setting."
— Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry during an interview on Fox News about a future debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton
Today in TribTalk
Ken Starr case highlights a trend for college presidents, by Michael S. Harris and Molly Ellis – As the appalling details of the Baylor University sexual assault scandal come to light, Ken Starr has learned that the path to successfully completing a university presidency is long and arduous. It also highlights a national trend – university presidents are more likely to be fired or forced to resign now than at any point in the past 30 years.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin