September 3, 2019

Ex-Rep. Vin Weber Quits Lobby Firm over Ukraine; Still Faces ITT Tech Suit

Ex-Rep. Vin Weber Quits Lobby Firm over Ukraine; Still Faces ITT Tech Suit

Former congressman Vin Weber (R-MN) has quit his lobbying job at Mercury Public Affairs, saying the ongoing Ukraine influence-peddling probe, which has been examining the lobby work Weber did for Ukrainian interests, “has become a distraction” and he will “focus my time and energy on protecting my reputation.”

That reputation, though, includes Weber’s long tenure as a board member of disgraced, collapsed predatory for-profit college ITT Tech, which for decades deceived and abused students. Deborah Caruso, the bankruptcy trustee for the closed school, has sued Weber and other ITT board members for standing by and allowing ITT CEO Kevin Modany to engage in irresponsible management and blatant self-dealing. Student advocates hope the trustee’s lawsuit will provide some measure of justice for ITT’s grotesque abuses. 

At Mercury, Weber lobbied his former colleagues in Congress on behalf of clients like AT&T, the pharmaceutical trade association PHRMA, student loan giant Sallie Mae, and student debt collection companies Navient and ECMC. He also advised GOP presidential contenders including Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Bob Dole. Reflecting how aggressively the for-profit college industry, which has received as much as $32 billion in a single year from federal taxpayers, has pressed for influence in Washington, all three of those Weber-advised candidates, in various ways, were paid boosters of the for-profit college industry.

Weber was in the 1990’s a lieutenant of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who himself has long served as a leading consultant to the for-profit college industry. Like Gingrich, Weber embodies DC revolving door awfulness — ex-politicians selling their reputations to predatory industries.