Sen. Marco Rubio landed a devastating attack against Donald Trump at the Republican debate Thursday night when he brought up a class-action lawsuit against "Trump University," which New York authorities say was more of a fraudulent scheme than an actual university.
There’s just one problem: Rubio supports shady schools that are a lot like Trump's.
As many news outlets have detailed over the years, the suit is led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and accuses Trump of running an unlicensed business school that defrauded more than 5,000 students nationwide. Rubio raised it in a tense moment at the debate, saying, "There are people that borrow $36,000 to go to Trump University, and they’re suing him now. And you know what they got? They got to take a picture with a cardboard cut-out of Donald Trump.”
Sen. Ted Cruz raised the issue of Trump’s legal battle later in the debate. According to The Washington Post, Google searches for “Trump University” shot up after each mention.
Trump has responded by attacking Schneiderman's credibility and saying that 98 percent of students were satisfied with their experience at Trump U.
You might think that Rubio wants to crack down on schools like Trump University, but you’d be wrong. He wants a lot more of them. One of the key provisions in Rubio’s education plan is a proposal to lower accreditation standards to let more schools compete for students. As he described the plan in July, “Our higher education system is controlled by what amounts to a cartel of existing colleges and universities, which use their power over the accreditation process to block innovative, low-cost competitors from entering the market. Within my first 100 days, I will bust this cartel by establishing a new accreditation process that welcomes low-cost, innovative providers.”
“Low-cost, innovative providers” is probably a friendlier way of describing the for-profit college system, an industry rife with the kind of fraud that Trump University is accused of. By lowering accreditation standards, Rubio’s plan would not only encourage more for-profit schools to enter the market, but also legitimize these institutions in a way that might make it harder for defrauded students to seek redress.
Rubio isn’t just in favor of for-profit schools. He also has ties to some of the worst of them. Rubio’s Senate campaign and PACs supporting him received more than $27,000 from the infamous Corinthian Colleges Inc., which was shut down and fined by the Education Department for misleading students and forcing them to take on huge amounts of debt to pay for a subpar education. As Bloomberg reported last April, Rubio sent a letter to the Education Department asking for leniency for Corinthian.
The Rubio campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.