[guest post by JVW]
This past winter, Patterico covered the the scandal encompassing the practices of the eponymous university promoted by the presumptive GOP nominee for President. Lawsuits brought against the school allege that they engaged in all sorts of unsavory business practices, including misleading promises and skillful manipulation of students to convince them to pay exorbitant tuition for carlessly-designed and poorly-executed coursework. The suit has been in the news lately as the candidate has taken to questioning the ability of the federal judge assigned to the fraud cases to deliver fair rulings, based mostly upon his Mexican heritage.
Well, earlier this week American Thinker published a post outlining the involvement of the husband of the presumptive Democrat nominee for President in the for-profit higher education world. Bill Clinton served as “honorary chancellor” for Laureate Education, who runs the for-profit B-Corp Laureate International Universities, from 2010 to 2015. During this five-year position, Clinton was paid some $16.5 million (a quick trip to the calculator will suggest that this is $3.3 million per year) for his services, which mostly seem to consist of flying around the world making speeches on behalf of the corporation, which brags that its network includes 80 campuses, both traditional and online, in 28 countries. The business model of the school apparently includes enlisting other high-profile international figures, as the homepage showcases former leaders such as Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice, Ernesto Zedillo, and others who have spoken at Laureate-sponsored events.
Do you believe in coincidences? According to a report in Bloomberg marking Clinton’s severing his ties with Laureate: “Laureate hired Bill Clinton just as the Obama administration was working on its first try at controversial regulations on ‘gainful employment’ and as then-Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) launched a series of hearings scrutinizing the industry, which relies heavily on federal student aid grants and loans for revenue.” And it may surprise you to learn that while the Obama Justice Department was hammering away at DeVry, ITT, the University of Phoenix, and other for-profit educational institutions, Laureate International Universities somehow escaped their notice.
Beyond lending his (cough, cough) prestige and making appearances at Laureate International University events, what exactly did Bill Clinton do for his $16.5 million? Clinton Cash, Peter Schweizer’s exposé of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s lucrative financial network published last year, tells us that the United States Department of State, headed by Secretary of State Hillary! Rodham Clinton, arranged $55 million in taxpayer grants for the International Youth Foundation, a charitable nonprofit whose chairman, Doug Becker, is also the chairman of Laureate. A report in Bloomberg last summer summarizes Schweizer’s findings as follows:
Citing the foundation’s tax filings, Schweizer writes that while IYF had received government grants (mainly from the U.S. Agency for International Development) as far back as 2001, they “exploded since Bill became chancellor of Laureate,” accounting for the vast majority of the nonprofit’s revenue. In 2010, “government grants accounted for $23 million of its revenue, compared to $5.4 million from other sources. It received $21 million in 2011 and $23 million in 2012.
The Clinton campaign disputed Schweizer’s characterization. “This is yet another false allegation in a book that is fast being debunked,” said Brian Fallon, a campaign spokesman. “The International Youth Foundation was funded by the Bush administration, well before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. In fact, the group’s USAID funding actually went down in the year that she arrived at the State Department, not up.”
A Bloomberg examination of IYF’s public filings show that in 2009, the year before Bill Clinton joined Laureate, the nonprofit received 11 grants worth $9 million from the State Department or the affiliated USAID. In 2010, the group received 14 grants worth $15.1 million. In 2011, 13 grants added up to $14.6 million. The following year, those numbers jumped: IYF received 21 grants worth $25.5 million, including a direct grant from the State Department.
For what it’s worth, Laureate International Universities is listed as having donated between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000 to the Clinton Foundation, the charitable wing of the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Global Initiative. Doug Becker is not listed has having made a personal donation to the foundation, because screw opening your own wallet when you can use refunneled taxpayer grants to purchase access and protection.
Shortly after the publication of Clinton Cash, Bill Clinton resigned from his honorary chancellorship at the university. Whether this was because the five-year agreement had run its course (the Clinton camp’s explanation), whether it was because he was clearing out the closet skeletons in advance of his wife’s Presidential run, or whether it was because his lavish compensation was an embarrassing revelation that complicated her lame attempts at populist appeal, the Clintons seem to have been pretty fortunate that this story quickly disappeared.
So why does this blog post refer to Laureate as a “sketchy higher education company”? Turns out that Laureate Education is the parent company of Walden University Online who is being sued for many of the practices that have led the Justice Department to crack down on for-profit universities. Here is Jonathan Turley’s explanation:
Laureate Education was sued over its Walden University Online offering, which some alleged worked like a scam designed to bilk students of tens of thousands of dollars for degrees. Students alleged that they were repeatedly delayed and given added costs as they tried to secure degrees, leaving them deeply in debt. Laureate itself has been criticized for “turbocharging” admissions while allowing standards to fall and shortchanging education.
Yet while the current Administration was making so much trouble for other for-profit universities, Laureate-Walden seems to have escaped their notice. Turley again:
The Wall Street Journal reported that Laureate was able to “skirt” regulations on reporting “gainful employment” due to its large number of schools and students outside of the country who do not receive federal aid. The Journal noted “[o]nly 31% of students who enroll at another Laureate school, Santa Fe University of Art and Design, graduate. After 10 years, a mere 58% earn more than Americans with a high school diploma.”
Clinton resigned from his post just before his wife declared her candidacy but praised the company for producing high quality education. Yet, MarketWatch reported “five out of its six U.S. campuses are on a list of 544 schools the Department of Education is monitoring over concerns about shaky finances or regulatory compliance.”
What is Hillary Clinton’s disposition on for-profit colleges? Like any good progressive Democrat beholden to the higher education monopoly, she’s wary of them.
Will this be yet another double-standard largely ignored by the lapdog media, or have the Clintons so worn down basic decency that even leftist sources will have to acknowledge how ugly this sort of hypocrisy truly is? It’s going to be an awful summer and fall.