Friday, June 10, 2016

Not exactly a BCS matchup

I'm guessing you've heard some things about Trump University, the scam that The Donald was running out of hotel conference rooms. Do you know about this story? Take it away, Jonathan Turley:
While largely ignored by the media, the Clintons have their own university scandal. Donald Trump has been rightfully criticized and sued over his defunct Trump University. There is ample support for claiming that the Trump University was fraudulent in its advertisements and operations. However, the national media has been accused of again sidestepping a scandal involving the Clintons that involves the same type of fraud allegations. The scandal involves a dubious Laureate Education for-profit online college (Walden) and entails many of the common elements with other Clinton scandals: huge sums given to the Clintons and questions of conflicts with Hillary Clinton during her time as Secretary of State. There are distinctions to draw between the two stories, but the virtual radio silence on the Clinton/Laureate story is surprising.
I don't find the radio silence particularly surprising, but let's get to the nub of it:
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.

The respected Inside Higher Education reported that Laureate Education paid Bill Clinton an obscene $16.5 million between 2010 and 2014 to serve as an honorary chancellor for Laureate International Universities.  Various news outlets said that neither Clinton nor Laureate were forthcoming on how much he was paid for the controversial association.

Bill Clinton worked as the “honorary chancellor” which sounds a bit like the group’s pitchman. He gave speeches in various countries and was heavily touted by the for-profit company to attract students.  The size of this payment (which has been widely reported) raises obvious concerns as to what the company was seeking to achieve and whether Laureate received any benefit from the association with the State Department given its massive international operations.
One could argue that, ah, it's just the ol' grifter being a grifter and that Hillary Clinton isn't implicated. Well, perhaps she is:

Indeed, Laureate has come up in the Clinton email scandal.  In her first year as Secretary of State, Clinton is quoted as directly asking that Laureate be included in a high-profile policy dinner — just months before the lucrative contract was given to Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton later references “Laureate Universities, started by Doug Becker who Bill likes a lot.”
And there's this part:
Various sites have reported that the State Department funneled $55 million in grants during Hillary Clinton’s tenure to groups associated with Laureate’s founder.  That would seem a pretty major story but virtually no mainstream media outlet has reported it while running hundreds of stories on the Trump University scandal.  The stories on the grants do not name Laureate directly.  Accordingly, the company might have not received direct grants (my first column did not make that clear and, in fairness to Laureate, there is no evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement or even direct grants).  However, there are references to the International Youth Federation (connected to Laureate chairman Douglas Becker) as receiving USAID funding. 
If you give Bill Clinton $16.5M and you get $55M in grants, that's a pretty good return in investment. Maybe it's not a quid pro quo -- as Turley suggests, the evidence isn't there. Yet. One thing is certain, though -- it would be quite interesting to investigate some of the 30,000+ "personal" emails Hillary Clinton deleted from her server.

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