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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Donald Trump went to Florida and got into a big mess

Mike and Irene Milin

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Mike and Irene Milin

In a way, the whole mess began in Florida.

Donald Trump in 2005 had just launched his real estate "university," online classes promising people the keys to his gold-plated lifestyle. But the New Yorker and his partners wanted to expand into live seminars. Lacking experience, they scouted three companies.

Dynatech in Orlando got passed over because it already managed several brands. Whitney Education Group in Cape Coral gave off a bad vibe. "It didn't take too much due diligence to look online and see the line of complaints about their business practices for us to feel uncomfortable," a partner later explained.

That led to Boca Raton and Mike and Irene Milin. Trump Institute was born and, with it, a good measure of the controversy dogging Trump on the presidential campaign trail.

Remarkably, it may have been avoided had the same scrutiny shown with Whitney Education been applied to the Milins.

Longtime operators on the get-rich-quick circuit, the Milins faced fraud and deceptive marketing allegations in numerous states. They settled cases in Texas in 1993 and Florida in 2001, only to see new allegations arise.

The history raises questions about Trump's business acumen — his chief selling point to voters — and illustrates his way of doing business.

Story here.

[Last modified: Sunday, July 3, 2016 5:00pm]

    

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