Long before he was a presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump endorsed products and companies and he made money doing it. One of those companies, ACN, sold long-distance phone services and videophones. Over a ten-year business relationship, Trump appeared in at least a half-dozen promotional videos for the company, which is described as a multi-level marketing firm.
In the case of ACN, it works this way. You buy-in for $499, recruit others to buy-in and sell, and you get a percentage of their income. Critics say it is nothing more than a pyramid scheme. Despite complaints, the company has successfully defended itself in investigations here in the U.S. and abroad.
In those promotional videos produced for ACN, Trump endorsed the products and the company, saying "I've been working with ACN for a few years now. We have a great relationship. The more I hear, the more I like and respect them. I see incredible potential in what they're doing now."
He even featured ACN on his "Celebrity Apprentice" show. Twice. According to federal disclosure forms Trump filed for his presidential run last year, he was paid $450,000 a year, for at least three years, by ACN for the glowing endorsements.
Shortly after the disclosure forms were made public, Trump was asked by The Wall Street Journal about the fees he collected from CAN. He told the paper, "I do not know the company. I know nothing about the company other than the people who run the company. I am not familiar with what they do or how they go about doing that, and I made that clear in my speeches."
The promotional videos featuring Trump seem to contradict that comment to The Wall Street Journal. In one of those videos, Trump summed up his assessment of CAN: "When evaluating a business opportunity, people need to look for clear leadership, a product people clearly need and want, and plan for the future. ACN has all of these things. ''
We repeatedly asked representatives for Trump to discuss this seeming contradiction with us. They declined.
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