April 30, 2012
Michelle Rhee with Florida Governor Rick Scott

Michelle Rhee Says She’ll Tell For-Profit Colleges To Clean Up Their Act

Michelle Rhee writes in the Huffington Post that “some have questioned” why she would speak at the upcoming annual meeting of the largest trade group of for-profit colleges, APSCU, and she offers an answer.  I first raised this question 10 days ago, so I want to evaluate Rhee’s response.

First of all, Rhee, the former chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools, says some good things. Some very good things. Although she believes “there are a number of colleges and universities in this sector that are doing good work and providing a solid education for students,” “many” for-profit schools …

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April 30, 2012

Four Nebraska Lawmakers Leave ALEC

As of last week, 28 lawmakers decided to end their membership in the corporate front group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Today, four Nebraska lawmakers — state senators Heath Mello (D), Jeremy Nordquist (D), Danielle Conrad (D), and Ken Haar (D) — announced that they are leaving ALEC or recently decided not to renew their membership.

“They’ve become very extreme on a lot of issues,” said Mello. “I don’t want to be used as a political pawn.” We applaud these senators for departing from ALEC and we hope that many more of every political persuasion will soon make the same decision.

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April 30, 2012
Your information will not be safe if CISPA passes.

Congressman Pushing Spying Law CISPA Got 15 Percent Of His Campaign Funds From Companies Who Want It

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) allows private corporations, security firms, and the government to peek into and share your online information without you ever knowing about it or having any legal recourse against it. These intrusions are so severe that the Obama administration has threatened to veto the version of this bill that passed the House of Representatives last week.

We recounted last week how social networking giant Facebook has recruited elite D.C. lobbyists to push this law in Washington. The Center for Responsive Politics’s OpenSecrets blog notes another interesting fact about the push for …

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April 30, 2012

Beyond Wal-Mart: Five Other Corporations That Bribed Officials Then Lobbied Against Anti-Bribery Laws

Imagine if the next time you were caught speeding, you decided to finance an elaborate lobbying operation to change the speed limit and weaken laws against driving too fast on public roads. You probably find that to be a silly hypothetical, but for some big corporations it’s standard operating procedure.

All eyes are on Wal-Mart after it was exposed that its Mexican subsidiary spent at least $24 million bribing Mexican officials while its parent company moved to cover it all up. Soon after this happened, powerful corporate front groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Industry Leaders …

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April 30, 2012

Has The Washington Post Company’s Membership In ALEC Affected Its Reporting?

My colleague David Halperin reported last week that the for-profit college division of the Washington Post Company’s Kaplan subsidiary was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for one year, ending in August 2011. He makes the case that we shouldn’t be surprised that for-profit colleges, which receive the large  majority of their revenue from federal financial aid yet still rip students off, would be members of ALEC:

Are you surprised to learn that these subprime schools joined the now-discredited ALEC, the secretive group that connects corporate special interests with campaign contribution-hungry state legislators in order to dominate …

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April 29, 2012

Whatever Happened To ALEC’s PR Campaign?

Ten days ago, the embattled American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate front group better known as ALEC, launched a campaign to improve its public image in the wake of public outcry about its roll in drafting Stand Your Ground laws. The plan was to get conservative bloggers writing nice things about ALEC, an uptick of positive Tweets and Pinterest pins supporting the organization, and the launch of a new website, IStandWithALEC.com.

So far, the public hasn’t been convinced. Mostly because none of this has happened. A sample of Tweets labeled #ALEC are still overwhelmingly negative. Meanwhile, a

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April 28, 2012
The elite who utilize private jets will continue to pay less taxes.

Warren Buffett’s NetJets Spent $1 Million Lobbying To Cut Fees For Its Wealthy Clients

Warren Buffett is best known in political America for his advocacy for taxing the wealthy at a similar rate to the rest of Americans. President Obama crafted the “Buffett Rule” after the idea that it’s wrong, as Buffet frequently says, for a billionaire like him to pay a lower income tax rate than his secretary.

But the Wall Street Journal reports that Buffett’s NetJets — a private jet rental and ownership company that is owned by his Berkshire Hathawayspent $1 million to lobby Congress to win a fee waiver from Congress.

Right now, the Federal Aviation Administration is …

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April 27, 2012
Obama takes on predatory colleges.
Obama takes on predatory colleges.

A Good Day: Obama Stands With Troops Instead of Wealthy Predatory Colleges

At Fort Stewart, Georgia, today, President Obama  signed an executive order aiming to protect U.S. troops, veterans, and their families from the predatory abuses of some for-profit colleges. It remains to be seen if this new directive will do enough to guide our service members into programs that actually help them build careers — and away from programs that leave them deep in debt. But President Obama delivered powerful remarks, charging that some for-profit education companies “aren’t interested in helping you…. They are interested in getting the money.” He called their conduct “appalling” and “disgraceful” and told the troops …

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