May 16, 2012

After Fighting The Taliban, Soldiers Return Home To Face Attacks From For-Profit Colleges & Their Lobbyists

After Fighting The Taliban, Soldiers Return Home To Face Attacks From For-Profit Colleges & Their Lobbyists
American veterans risked their lives fighting insurgents like the Taliban. Now, lobbyists like Brian Moran (left) work to ensure that for-profit college companies remain unaccountable, even when they scam veterans and their families. Moran is also chair of the Virginia Democratic Party.

After risking their lives abroad, American veterans are returning home to a new set of dangers. For-profit college companies are increasingly targeting veterans and their education benefits as a source for easy profits. The companies have a record of fraud, from deceptive recruiting practices to extremely high drop-out and default rates. Unlike tradition private or public schools, for-profit college executives often reward themselves with compensation of over $20 million a year. Experts have noted that much of the $640 millionin G.I. benefits channeled to for-profit companies is spent on executive salary, marketing, and recruitment — not education services.

As Bloomberg News has reported, for-profit colleges have even targeted veterans facing serious traumatic brain injuries. Some marines reported not being able to remember which classes he was enrolled to take.

The good news is that President Obama issued an executive order this month forcing accountability standards on for-profit college companies targeting veterans. The order compels the companies to provide prospective students with vital information like loan repayment amounts and transferability of their credits to other schools.

For most veterans and their families, this is good news. But to Beltway lobbyists, Obama’s order was a call to arms. To protect their gravy train from the government, for-profit colleges have summoned an army of K Street hacks to help them exploit our nation’s veterans.

Republic Report has assembled a list of K Street lobbyists — many of whom who refer to themselves as “hired guns” — are now gunning to exploit our veterans and their education benefits:

— The lobbying trade group that represents the for-profit college industry, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), attacked the recent executive order by President Obama as a “deeply unfortunate development.” Former Congressman Steve Gunderson (R-WI), now the chief lobbyist for the group, testified today at a hearing designed to scrutinize the Obama executive order. APSCU also employs Brian Moran, head of the Virginia Democratic Party, as a lobbyist.

Career Education Corp, which owns Missouri College, Brooks Institute, the International Academy of Design & Technology, and many other online school company brands, is registered to lobby on veterans benefits. The company has two in-house lobbyists and retains three outside firms, including the politically-connected Podesta Group.

Bridgepoint Education specializes in online university degrees, and has been cited for fraudulent recruitment practices and other abuses. The firm is registered to lobby on veterans benefits; the lobbying team includes former Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), who now works for the firm Dickstein Shapiro as an influence peddler.

Capella University, a for-profit college company based in Minnesota, is registered to lobby on veterans benefits. The corporation counts former Congressman Vin Weber (R-MN), now a lobbyist and advisor to Mitt Romney’s campaign, among its team on K Street.

Today, lobbyists are converging on Capitol Hill to join Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL), who is hosting a hearing to undermine Obama’s executive order. Miller, the recipient of a great deal of for-profit college campaign funds, called the executive order an attack on the “free market.” Republic Report has two of our reporters on the scene.