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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

The John Kline For-Profit College Donor List Hall of Shame

Category: John Kline
Posted: 07/29/14 15:28

by Dave Mindeman

John Kline continues to avoid any intense scrutiny of his questionable donor base and his actions that benefit them directly. The ongoing assumption is that John Kline will get reelected and continue to control the futures of our students. Politico (in the middle of the article) did a blurb about the CD2 race and mentioned the following:

Education interests are Kline's biggest overall donors, accounting for $194,000 in donations so far this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. University of Phoenix owner Apollo Education Group is a top Kline contributor, having donated $19,100 so far this cycle. Other edu donors to Kline's campaign include: Globe University ($11,400), Herzing University ($10,400), Education Affiliates ($10,200), NelNet Inc. ($10,000), Capella Education ($5,600), Rasmussen College ($5,200) and Corinthian College ($5,000)."

But that list should be troubling to anyone who takes education policy seriously. It is a "Black List" of federal loan waste. It is a garbage dump for student loan defaults. I list each one of these donors with a quote and a link that gives a brief indication of why Kline's connection with these donors leaves the 2nd Congressional District with tainted representation. Look at the articles and see for yourself:

Univ. of Phoenix - The San Diego campus's overall graduation rate is under 15 percent, according to the federal Department of Education, and more than a quarter of students there default on their loans within three years of leaving school. No one from any state or federal government agency knows how many veterans who go to school on the GI Bill graduate or find jobs.

Globe University - Minnesota's Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota School of Business and Globe University--two for-profit schools that operate under the Globe Education Network umbrella--alleging that they misled some students, leaving them burdened with debt but without the means to repay it.

Herzing University - Herzing University was one of the 30 for-profits examined in the Harkin report. And while the company wasn't singled out for egregious actions, it also wasn't among the handful of colleges praised by (Senator)Harkin for generally rising above problems highlighted in the report.

Education Affiliates - Hearings from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, as well as an investigation by the Government Accountability Office, found misleading and questionable practices at 15 schools during an undercover investigation. These include Kaplan College in Pembroke Pines, which has suspended enrollment of new students, and MedVance in Miami.....Officials from MedVance, owned by Baltimore-based Education Affiliates, could not be reached, despite calls to its headquarters. Kaplan officials would only say they would cooperate with the investigation.

NelNet - The lender has been riddled with controversy; in 2006, Inside Higher Ed reported that NelNet had overcharged the government about a billion dollars. (They settled in 2010 for $55 million to resolve a whistle-blower lawsuit -- which also targeted Sallie Mae.) "Amidst revelations this spring of industry wide kickbacks, improper inducements, and gifts from student loan providers to colleges and universities, Nelnet quickly shut down a Nebraska investigation into its activities by agreeing to provide $1 million to the state in support of a national financial aid awareness campaign.

Capella University - The university recently joined the long list of publicly traded education companies hit with class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of angry shareholders. The Police Pension Fund of Peoria has filed suit in U.S. District Court for Minnesota, claiming that the company misled investors about its business practices in order to inflate the price of its stock. "The company had been engaging in abusive and fraudulent recruiting and financial aid lending practices, thereby increasing Capella's student enrollment and revenues," the suit claims.

Rasmussen College - "Like many others in the sector, Rasmussen's enrollment increased rapidly over the past decade.
Much of this growth came after the company's 2003 acquisition by the private equity company Frontenac. Additionally, Rasmussen has received increasing amounts of Federal financial aid dollars, at least $185 million in 2010, and realized significant increases in profit. However, the company's programs are costly and students attending Rasmussen have some of the worst retention rates of any company examined by the committee, with more than 63 percent of students leaving with no degree. While Rasmussen has made some minor improvements, including an orientation program, and makes a greater investment in spending on instruction and student services than many for-profit colleges examined, it is unclear whether taxpayers or students are obtaining value from their investment in the company."

And now, Rasmussen College is a public benefit corporation. This is exactly the type of "whitewashing" or "greenwashing" that lawyers and scholars predicted would occur as the benefit corporation legislation has been passed into law in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Any company can become a public benefit corporation; and the public benefit produced is only enforceable by shareholders.

Corinthian College - Since for-profit juggernaut Corinthian Colleges (COCO) announced it was shutting down or selling its 97 U.S.-based schools this month, the fate of its 72,000 enrolled students has been the subject of speculation. Not much has been said about a much larger group of Corinthian students: the hundreds of thousands of people who already paid for a degree from the company.

Thanks to a quirk in federal law, only a sliver of students can get their debt forgiven when owed to a school that shuts down. Students are obliged to pay off student loans to a shuttered school unless they were attending class within 120 days of the school's closing. This means that most everyone who graduated with student debt more than four months ago from Corinthian--which is closing amidst accusations by California's attorney general that it deceived students and falsified job placement records--is left with a degree of dubious value and loans that will be virtually impossible to discharge.

Why doesn't the media ask John Kline the questions?

Why did he gavel down an attempt to close the loophole on including GI Student loans for the 90/10 rule which would make these For-Profit schools more accountable?

How does John Kline justify the concerns about the student loan defaults increasing our debt and deficits?

Why does he not join with Senator Tom Harkin in working toward a fix for this student loan crisis?

Why does he seem to protect the interests of these For-Profit colleges and ignore the needs of the students they supposedly serve?

Why doesn't he investigate the Corinthian College closing and find a way to help students still locked in debt they cannot discharge?

Why? Why? Why?

And still no answers from the one person who is in a position to do something about it.
comments (1) permalink

Prediction: Seifert For The GOP

Category: GOP 2014
Posted: 07/28/14 17:45

by Dave Mindeman

The Republican race for the GOP Governor standardbearer has been particularly tough to figure out. Characterized as anything from "sleepy" to a "yawner", it hasn't attracted much serious excitement. And there haven't been many actual debates to gain more information.

But heck, I'll go out on a limb and rank them anyway. The GOP isn't going to pay any attention to what I think, so here they are in reverse order....

4. Scott Honour - Honour doesn't strike me as much of a retail politician. His whole premise for running is that government has too many career politicians and its time for a change. But a change to what? Honour is an enigma that few have figured out. Some of his bio sounds pretty familiar:

For much of his career, Honour was a major investment manager with the Gores Group in Los Angeles, which is involved in global transactions and handles multibillions of dollars in private equity, including investment from major pensions. The company specialized in buying companies and then finding efficiencies through layoffs, closing plants and other reductions, sometimes resulting in bankruptcy.

So he's another private equity guy. Made his money in California, not Minnesota. So he is trying to tell us that a guy who hasn't really engaged in the Minnesota economy, hasn't live here for awhile, and has never been involved in politics in any way....should be elected governor? Sorry, I don't get that one at all. Honour is a bank account and that's about it.

And as for his running mate, Sen. Karin Housley. That's another puzzle. She doesn't add much for geographic help coming from Stillwater - an eastern suburb. But at least she's a Senator and won't cost the GOP anything in the legislature.

3. Kurt Zellers - Actually, I have to admit, Zellers looks more comfortable as a governor candidate then he ever did as speaker. But this idea that he is the "only one who has taken on Gov. Dayton" rings pretty hollow. He let the stadium go through and he shut down the government over a budget where Dayton gets his revenue and Zellers opts for borrowing rather than taxes. Then he takes another "no taxes" pledge after the Democrats have managed to fix the previous budget with taxes they passed in the previous session. Standing his ground? More like standing on quick sand. Zellers opted for former Rep. Dean Simpson as his running mate. Simpson was also his campaign chair - so was he having trouble getting somebody to yes? Simpson has little name recognition outside of western Minnesota. Not sure what the strategy is on that one.

2. Jeff Johnson - The endorsement moves Johnson slightly ahead of Zellers, but his cash reserves are bleak. He may have a chance in a 4 way primary but going into the general, he will be a weak candidate. If the GOP ground game apparatus has improved, it might be enough to get Johnson through an intraparty fight. However, the endorsement process left some splits out there. And the Tea Party groups have been strangely silent - another area that Johnson has been actively seeking. And his odd choice for running mate was Bill Kuisle - a former Rochester legislator. Kuisle got the ticket in trouble with comments on fracking - and although I am sure Johnson was trying to cultivate some favor in Olmsted County, I'm not sure Kuisle has much of a reach anymore.

1. Marty Seifert - This is going to be a close election, but I think that Seifert's outstate credentials will be the deciding factor. Honour and Johnson will probably split any Twin Cities vote and Zellers might be favored in the burbs, but Seifert can speak to the rural vote - its just a question of will they go to the polls. Seifert did make a strong showing at the last convention and got some brownie points by his graceful pullout after Emmer won the endorsement. However, he botched those brownie points by a very awkward end to the Johnson endorsement win. That may cost Seifert in the end. His running mate choice - Rep. Pam Myhra, was a good one. She isn't well known but will bring in some Burnsville votes and dip into the surburbs. A good geographical balance - if that is worth anything anymore.


So, there is my reading of the tea leaves. Could be completely wrong, been wrong before. And, granted, I have a vastly different perspective than the primary voters...but heck, we shall see the real "polling" in a few weeks.

In any event, the "sleepy" race should be interesting.
comments (1) permalink

Stewart Mills III Should Be Running In Wisconsin

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 07/26/14 14:59

by Dave Mindeman

Stewart Mills III is running for Congress in the 8th District of Minnesota. But the impression I keep getting is that Mills is more suited for a run across the border....in Wisconsin.

First of all, Mills has fessed up to being a villainous Packers fan. That would be a deal breaker for me from the get go.

But, in addition to that, Mills seeks out his political hires from Wisconsin's Scott Walker team.

...his pollster is Tarrance Group, a large national firm that also did polling for Walker. His media consultant, FP1 Strategies, has run pro-Walker ads for the Republican Governor Association....according to FEC filings, the Mills campaign has paid Wisconsin-based Connectivist Media more than $10,000 for "online services"; Connectivist has done online work for Walker this cycle. Mills' direct mail firm, SCM, helped raise millions of dollars for Walker's recall campaign. And Mills has outsourced his FEC compliance duties to a Wisconsin firm, Aspect Consulting, run by Walker's campaign treasurer, Kate Lind.

Really? Minnesota politicos don't work for ya?

Mills doesn't seem to care about the background of some of these Wisconsites either....(or maybe intentional?)

For example. Milles hired Keith Gilkes as a general political consultant. Seems like a vague job description, but maybe it is more about the connections Gilkes has than about what he does.

Gilkes has been mentioned in Walker's "John Doe" investigation. The details of which keep getting leaked in drips and drabs but no charges ever seem to make it to the public domain. But let's get back to Gilkes....

Prosecutors said Walker, his chief of staff Keith Gilkes and top adviser R.J. Johnson were discussing illegal coordination with a number of national groups and prominent figures, including GOP strategist Karl Rove.

Not a bad character to have on your team....if your goal is to utilize a fudgy way to get around the illegal use of coordinating with outside groups. After all, Gilkes has already done it and is getting away with it.

Mills seems to be seeking a Scott Walker Lite campaign....which you can characterize and interpret anyway you want.

As I stated at the beginning - Mills is running in the wrong state.
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