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Ethics panel won't pursue Donald Trump complaint against Attorney General Schneiderman

Donald Trump listens during a news conference in

Donald Trump listens during a news conference in Greenville, S.C. on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Credit: AP / Richard Shiro

ALBANY -- The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics has decided against pursuing Donald Trump's misconduct complaint against state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman over Schneiderman's investigation of Trump University, according to a JCOPE letter obtained Monday.

"It's a joke," said Alan Garten, executive vice president and general counsel for The Trump Organization. "It's New York politics at its best. There is no accountability."

Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president, is considering an appeal.

The ethics panel's board voted to reject Trump's 2013 claim that Schneiderman, a Democrat, was soliciting campaign contributions from Trump and from his daughter, Ivanka, in 2012 while the attorney general was investigating Trump University after allegations by former students that they weren't getting the education they were paying for.

Ivanka Trump had contributed to Schneiderman's re-election campaign at about that time but wasn't a principal in Trump University.

Schneiderman's campaign committee Monday also released a letter stating it returned a $500 check to Ivanka Trump.

The Democrat's campaign said Ivanka Trump made a false assertion when she provided the donation in 2014, according to the campaign in a letter dated Aug. 11. She had stated that "to the best of my knowledge neither I personally nor any entity to which I own or control has any matter presently pending with the NYS Attorney General's office."

Trump has maintained his for-profit school for investors had a 98 percent approval rating from students, although Garten said the school isn't teaching any students now.

The state required the school to drop "university" from its name because it wasn't accredited.

"Based on a review of materials presented and information available to the commission at this time, the commission has determined not to take further action to the above referenced complaint," JCOPE stated in a letter dated Aug. 6 and first reported by the Daily News.

On Monday, Schneiderman spokesman Matt Mittenthal declined to comment because of pending litigation.

JCOPE said in its letter that details of its decision are confidential and won't be revealed. A JCOPE spokesman refused to comment Monday.

In 2013, Schneiderman first accused Trump University of using "an elaborate bait-and-switch" to bilk thousands of students by charging tuition but failing to provide the academic benefit promised.

Schneiderman sued Trump and operators of the school for $40 million on behalf of 5,000 former students. The school opened a decade ago when Trump was hosting the TV reality show "The Apprentice," in which contestants were challenged to succeed in business before Trump could use his catchphrase, "You're fired."

That lawsuit is expected to be in court in September, a Schneiderman spokesman said.

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