Huffington Post: Regulations Lead to Lobbying Surge by the For-Profit College Industry

Written by admin on March 11th, 2011

When your entire business model depends on Government money, potential changes bring out vast amounts of lobbying dollars.

Huffington Post

The lobbying conference comes as the industry finds itself fighting on all fronts to block a proposed rule meant to rein in what many are calling bad practices by the industry. This fight has spurred the highest lobbying spending by the industry in its nascent history.

In 2010 the for-profit college industry spent $7.57 million on lobbying, almost three times as much as it spent in 2009. The industry also doled out over $1.3 million in campaign contributions over the 2010 election cycle.

Last year ProPublica examined the contributions to members signing protest letters over the education rules. This report looked only at contributions made in 2010 (not the cycle) and found that contributions from the industry skyrocketed to these members after the first letter was sent on March 22, 2010 and were often clustered around dates when the letters were sent. More than ninety percent of industry contributions to letter signatories in 2010 came on or after the date, March 22, that the first letter was sent.

A further examination shows executives and employees of for-profits clustering their contributions along with industry political action committees (PAC).

Campaign finance records show thirty-five contributions totaling $40,500 to Reps. Buck McKeon and John Kline from executives, employees, and political action committees of Corinthian Colleges, Education Management Corp., and the Keiser University system reported on May 28, 2010. The two Republican congressmen each held the position of ranking member of the Education & Labor Committee in 2010; Kline is currently the chairman of the committee.

McKeon and Kline had already signed a letter in opposition to the rule on March 22. Kline had also signed another letter on April 30. The congressmen are the top two recipients of for-profit college money among those who signed letters oppose the new rules receiving $99,750 and $71,500 respectively.

Another letter signatory who received clustered contributions is Rep. Donald Payne. On July 19 Payne cosigned a letter to the Department of Education opposing the rules. This came after having signed onto two other letters on March 22 and April 30.

From the month preceding the July 19 letter, Payne received sixteen contributions totaling $18,500 from ten different for-profit college organizations. This spurt of contributions accounted for all but $3,000 of Payne’s haul from the for-profit industry. Payne would sign a fourth letter on September 8, a date on which he also reports receiving a $1,000 contribution from Bridgepoint Education.

Rep. Alcee Hastings signed his name to more letters than any other congressman. Hastings received seven contributions totaling $7,400 over the course of one week in April. This occurred in between Hastings signing a letter on March 22 and a second letter on April 30. According to Hastings’ publicly available schedule the congressman met with representatives from Education Management Corporation the week after receiving these contributions. (None of the contributions to Hastings came from Education Management.)

These letters were part of a larger grassroots lobbying campaign by the for-profit college industry that included swamping the Department of Education with comments opposing the proposed rules. The rules ultimately received over 90,000 comments, many of them coming in bulk submissions from both opponents and supporters of the rules.

 

Leave a Comment