May 18, 2012

VIDEO: Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Refuses To Talk About His Lobbying For Scam Schools

VIDEO: Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Refuses To Talk About His Lobbying For Scam SchoolsIn many places, being the leader of a chapter of a political party is an honor. It’s a position that you can use to advance your party’s values and goals. But Virginia Democratic Party chairman Brian Moran — brother of Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) — is using his clout in a different way.

In addition to leading Virginia’s Democratic Party, Moran serves as the Executive Vice President for Government Relations and General Counsel of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU). Essentially, he’s a super-lobbyist for the for-profit college industry, which consistently seeks to block policy initiatives by the leader of the national Democratic Party, President Obama.

Schools in the predatory for-profit college industry can get 90 percent or more of their revenues from the government, and yet many of them provide a terrible education. Only 11 percent of college students attend these schools, but they account for 44 percent of all student loan defaults. The industry has come under particular fire for its poor treatment of our veterans. Despite their deceptive practices, the for-profit colleges have captured nearly a third of the federal funds for veterans’ education amounting to $1.6 billion.

That’s where APSCU comes in. It has used its clout — which includes lobbying dollars and campaign contributions — to fight the federal government’s every attempt to stop federal funds from flowing to bad actors in the industry.

President Obama recently issued an executive order promoting greater disclosure from the for-profit college industry to shield veterans from its deceptive practices. APSCU immediately attacked the executive order, obviously worried that curbing abuses against the military would cost its members profits.

The House of Representatives held a hearing Wednesday on Obama’s executive order, one which Moran attended. Following the hearing, my colleague Suzanne Merkelson and I tried talked to Moran about why he works as a lobbyist fighting against his party’s own leader on behalf of a powerful corporate interest.

As soon as we told Moran who we were, he refused to talk to us, saying that our blog has been “totally unfair.” He then pointed at me and asked me if I was one of my colleagues. “You’re not David Halperin, are you?” “Do I look like David Halperin?” I replied, incredulously, wondering how many South Asians would be confused for David Halperin. He shrugged. (Halperin tells me that he met with Moran and four other people for over an hour in 2010 at the Center for American Progress to discuss for-profit college issues; he said he was crestfallen that he did not make a stronger impression on Moran but excited to have been confused with a much younger colleague.)

As Moran turned to leave I asked him once more about his lobbyist job.

“Is there any conflict between you being a lobbyist and being head of the Democratic Party?”

“Absolutely not,” he responded.

“But you’re fighting [against] President Obama’s fight to hold this industry accountable against veterans,” I replied.

He turned again to face me and reply, but his colleague turned him around. He briskly walked away.

Watch it:

There have been calls in the Virginia progressive blogosphere for removing Moran from his position as head of the state’s Democratic Party, including because of his status as a for-profit college lobbyist. On June 1st the party’s Steering Committee will meet and it will have the power to recommend that Moran be removed from his position in September when the Central Committee meets.