David Elliot Halperin (born November 28, 1962) is an American lawyer, policy advocate, organizational consultant, and investigative writer.  He is a leading critic of for-profit higher education in the United States, including through investigative reporting on the website Republic Report. He also works on government corruption and ethics issues and on climate and energy issues. He is counsel to Public.Resource.Org, a non-profit organization that makes government materials widely available online.
Halperin previously worked as a White House speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, as counsel to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, as the founding director of Campus Progress (the youth program of the Center for American Progress), and as the founding executive director of the American Constitution Society.
Early life and education
From 1984 to 1986, Halperin was a research analyst, working on nuclear weapons issues, at the non-profit Arms Control Association.  He also served as the Washington correspondent for Nuclear Times magazine and as a research assistant for former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on his book, Blundering Into Disaster. 
After graduating from law school, Halperin served from 1989 to 1991 as the law clerk to U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell, at a time when Judge Gesell heard criminal cases related to the Iran-contra affair.
From 1991 to 1993, Halperin was counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  In this period, the committee conducted a major investigation into the Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavoro and whether U.S. intelligence agencies created front companies that may have assisted Iraq in acquiring weaponry.    Halperin also helped to draft the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which historian Steven M. Gillion has called “a sweeping law that placed all remaining government documents pertaining to the assassination in a special category and loosened the normal classification guidelines,” leading to t”he most ambitious declassification effort in American history — more than five million documents in total.”
In 1993, Halperin co-founded, with former Microsoft executive Rob Glaser, Progressive Networks, a business that sought to create a politically progressive online multimedia network. Halperin left the company in 1994, after it changed its focus to developing audio and video streaming services. The company subsequently changed its name to RealNetworks. 
Between 1994 and 1997, Halperin worked as a sole practitioner lawyer. He worked on litigation matters in the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts, in association with Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe and also on his own.  
Halperin also represented government official Robert Shireman in a lawsuit against the Republican National Committee over a contest held by the RNC. Halperin filed a breach of contract case in Superior Court in Washington, D.C. The court denied a motion to dismiss filed by the RNC. The RNC subsequently sued all 80 people who had entered the contest, moving the case to federal court in Jackson, Mississippi. Halperin moved that court to transfer the case to federal court in Washington, D.C., and the court granted that motion. Shireman and the RNC ultimately settled, while 20 other people stayed in the suit, creating litigation for the RNC for years.
Halperin helped consumer advocate Ralph Nader write No Contest (1996), a book about corporate lawyers. Halperin also served as one of the first fellows of the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where he conducted a project and published a book chapter on the relationship between the Internet and national security. 
From 1997 to 2000, Halperin served in the White House as a foreign policy speechwriter for President Clinton, with the title Special Assistant to the President and Director for Speechwriting, National Security Council.  
In 2001 Halperin became a founding board member, and then, from 2001 to 2003, the first executive director of the American Constitution Society, a national organization aimed at moving national law and policy in a progressive direction.  
Halperin served as outside counsel to Greenpeace USA, as the organization faced criminal and civil cases, including a 2004 criminal trial in Miami where the group was acquitted.   He also for many years advised Greenpeace on chemical plant security issues.  
In 2004, Halperin launched and became the first director of Campus Progress (now called Generation Progress), the youth program of the Center for American Progress, and he became senior vice president of the Center.    Campus Progress supported youth activism and journalism programs, and held events, including an annual conference in Washington, DC, where speakers included Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, John Lewis, Nancy Pelosi, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, John Oliver, Ryan Gosling, Fat Joe, and Ted Leo.    
While at Campus Progress, Halperin and his staff began work to highlight abuses at for-profit colleges and to advance measures to hold predatory schools accountable. In early 2011, Melanie Sloan, then the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and others claimed that Campus Progress was running an expensive advertising campaign criticizing for-profit colleges and implied, without evidence, that the effort was financed by Wall Street investors who were short-selling for-profit education stocks.   (A subsequent report revealed that CREW had received funding from a foundation connected to John Sperling, founder of the for-profit University of Phoenix.) Also in early 2011, an anonymous operation generated letters, signed with fake names, to national advocacy groups urging them not to work with Halperin and Campus Progress on efforts to regulate for-profit colleges and making the same false allegations about a connection to short-sellers.
Halperin left the Center for American Progress in January 2012 and became an independent lawyer and advocate.  With journalist Lee Fang and others, he launched Republic Report, an investigative news website focused on corruption of U.S. politics.  
Continuing work he did at Campus Progress, Halperin has become one of the leading national critics of predatory for-profit colleges. Halperin has explained that his determination to work on this issue was influenced by meeting Rashidah Smallwood, a former financial aid administrator at ITT Tech in Texas. Smallwood contacted Campus Progress and reported that ITT Tech fired her after she refused to engage in what she considered to be fraud in obtaining federal student aid. Campus Progress brought Smallwood to Washington, D.C. in 2011 to speak at an event on Capitol Hill. Afterward, Halperin and Campus Progress staff were unable to find a single member of Congress available to meet with her, at a time when lobbyists for for-profit colleges were regularly meeting with members.  
Halperin, like other critics of for-profit colleges, has argued that many for-profit schools use deceptive advertising and recruiting to lure students, often low-income people, people of color, immigrants, and veterans, into high-priced, low-quality programs.         Nearly a quarter of all taxpayer-funded federal student grants and loans go to for-profit schools, and many of the students at these schools end up with insurmountable debt and no improvement in their career prospects.
Richard Fossey, a professor emeritus at the University of Louisiana who writes a blog about student debt, wrote in 2019 that Halperin is “the nation’s best investigative reporter on the for-profit college industry.” Louis Clark, executive director and CEO of the Government Accountability Project, wrote in the introduction to a 2020 book by Dan Moldea, “David Halperin is … a journalist, attorney, and public policy activist rolled into one superhero. For a decade he has helped to guide a national campaign to expose corrupt practices that appear endemic to for-profit higher education.”
On May 22, 2019, Halperin testified about for-profit college abuses and the failure of oversight of the U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy at a hearing entitled “Examining For-Profit College Oversight and Student Debt.” Halperin also appeared at a 2015 Federal Trade Commission workshop to discuss deceptive practices by online lead generation companies that recruit students to for-profit colleges, a topic on which he has published numerous investigative articles.   
On Republic Report, Halperin has published major investigative reports on abuses at schools and companies including Corinthian Colleges, ITT Technical Institute, Education Management Corporation, Perdoceo Education Corporation, Kaplan University, Dream Center Education Holdings, Leeds Equity Partners, Florida Career College, and Keiser University. Halperin has published an e-book, Stealing America’s Future: How For-Profit Colleges Scam Taxpayers and Ruin Students’ Lives (2014). Halperin also maintains a web page detailing law enforcement investigations of for-profit colleges. Halperin appears in Fail State, a documentary that examines the for-profit college industry.
Halperin has been critical of influential political figures who have been paid to lobby for or advise for-profit colleges, or who have received campaign contributions from these schools.   More generally, he has questioned the ethics of powerful individuals who have been paid to defend improper behavior or conflicts of interest by corporations and others, and people and institutions that compromise their integrity by taking money from special interests.  He also sharply criticized the higher education policies and ethics of the U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos and Acting Under Secretary Diane Auer Jones.   
In addition to his work on higher education, Halperin works on climate change, democracy, and other issues. He provides strategic, policy, communications, and legal advice to a number of research, advocacy, and policy organizations. He successfully defended blogger Mike Stark against a defamation lawsuit brought by Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray.   Halperin also writes about climate and energy issues. 
Halperin has served since 2012 as of counsel to Public.Resource.Org, advising founder Carl Malamud on legal and policy issues relating to open government, and assisting with litigation matters, including Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, a case in which the Supreme Court rejected Georgia’s copyright challenge to Public Resource posting the Official Code of Georgia, and American Society for Testing and Materials et al. v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc., in which standards development organizations are suing Public Resource for posting hundreds of technical standards that government agencies have incorporated into law.    
Halperin has been since 2007 a member of the board of directors of the national consumer organization Public Citizen.  In 2019, Halperin and Public Citizen sued Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos because the Department was blocking Public Citizen’s website on its internal networks.  
Halperin has published op-eds and articles in the New York Times  , Washington Post , Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, The Nation  , Foreign Policy, Politico, Slate, The Hill, Huffington Post, The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, and other publications — on subjects including homeland security, terrorism, nuclear weapons, military policy, education policy, free speech, intellectual property, civil litigation, legal ethics, and politics.
Criticisms of work
Halperin’s work has been criticized by advocates for the for-profit college industry. Steve Gunderson, a former Republican congressman from Wisconsin, and the CEO of the for-profit college trade association CECU, wrote that Halperin, as well as the New York Times, had published “countless examples of biased news reports.” Allen West, a former Republican congressman from Florida, called Halperin and Robert Shireman “[s]elf-styled experts” who “assault private colleges by cherry-picking data and ignoring the success of many private schools. These supposed experts are more interested in partisan politics than in helping struggling Americans obtain a high-quality education.” Gerard Scimeca of Consumer Action for a Strong Economy claims that Halperin and Shireman “make a good living doing the dirty work of the education establishment, setting up foundations filled with left-wing journalists, politicians, and former administration officials to tear down for-profit and non-profit private colleges.” Carl Barney, operator of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education career college chain, claimed there was a conspiracy to destroy his schools among Halperin, Robert Shireman, senators Elizabeth Warren and Dick Durbin, accrediting agency ACCSC, an assistant attorney general of Colorado, and others. (We can go ahead and tell you that all these criticisms, from paid shills and aggrieved owners, are baseless.)
While Halperin was director of Campus Progress, Jonathan Strong of The Daily Caller argued that Halperin was wearing “dual hats … reporter and activist,” telling “a revealing tale about the rise of blogs and other media hosted by ideological organizations whose ultimate purpose is to push legislative proposals, not to pursue truth independently from political strategy.”
 Dan E. Moldea, Money, Politics, and Corruption in U. S. Higher Education: The Stories of Whistleblowers (pp. 171-209 about Halperin) (2020). ISBN-13: 978-0578661155; excerpted at Moldea.com, Money, Politics, and Corruption in U. S. Higher Education: The Stories of Whistleblowers. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Aarthi Swaminathan, “’I may never give up’: Behind the fight against predatory for-profit schools,” Yahoo! Finance podcast, August 29, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Questionnaire for Judicial Nominee Pamela Ann Harris, 2014.
 David Halperin, “The Shultz-Gromyko talks: don’t discuss ‘star wars,‘” December 4, 1984, Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Robert. S. McNamara, Blundering into Disaster: Surviving the First Century of the Nuclear Age, 1986. ISBN13: 9780747500094.
 Library of Congress, Robert S. McNamara Papers; A Finding Aid to the Collection, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 S. 2198 and S. 421To reorganize the United States Intelligence Community, Joint Hearing, Select Committee On Intelligence Of The United States Senate And Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence Of The House Of Representatives, One Hundred Second Congress, Second Session, April 1, 1992. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Ripon College, “Messitte discusses intelligence oversight in Sun-Times,” March 19, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, The Intelligence Community’s Involvement in the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) Affair, 103rd Congress, 1st Session, February 1993. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Joan Biskupic, “Manufacturer Liability is at Heart of Pacemaker Case,” Washington Post, April 22, 1996. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Danny Westneat, “GOP Says $1 Million Offer A Spoof; 20 Litigants Not Laughing,” Chicago Tribune, October 5, 1999. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith, No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America (Random House 1996) ISBN-13 : 978-0375752582.
 David Halperin, “The Internet and National Security: Emerging Issues,” in Information Age Anthology: National Security Implications of the Information Age, DoD C4ISR Cooperative Research Program 2000. ISBN 1-893723-02-X. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Rebecca Ballhaus, “Memos: Bill Clinton Likes to Say ‘America’ Not ‘United States,’” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 The White House, Official Delegation Accompanying the President to South Asia, March 19, 2000. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Robert Schlesinger, White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters (Simon & Schuster 2008). ISBN-13 : 978-0743291705.
 Douglas Perry, ”Electoral College electors feel pressure of patriotism, Founders’ original intent, as vote nears,” The Oregonian, November 29, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Voice of America, “Miami Judge Dismisses Charges Against Greenpeace Activists,” May 20, 2004. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Brian Faler, “Clinton and Other Democratic Leaders Urge Young Liberals to Get Involved,” Washington Post, July 14, 2005.
 YouTube, “Campus Progress Director welcomes young progressives,” July 8, 2010. Retrieved Oct. 19, 2020.
 YouTube, “David Halperin: ‘Gender Neutral Bathrooms, Limbaugh’s Worst Nightmare,’” August 2, 2009. Retrieved Oct. 19, 2020.
 Fox News, “Obama Administration’s New Regulations on For-Profit Colleges Draw Backlash,” June 4, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Natasha Mayer, “Why is CAP funding a television campaign against for-profit colleges?,” January 27, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Absurd Charges Cannot Obscure the Real Debate on For-Profit Colleges,” CampusProgress.org, February 3, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Lee Fang, “As Subprime College Industry Ramps Up Lobbying, Phony Letters Attack Reform Proponents,” ThinkProgress, February 18, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 “David Halperin, Leaving Campus Progress, Says Thank You,” CampusProgress.org, January 5, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Steve Clemons, “Corruption Watchdogs Have a Hot New Blogger: Jack Abramoff,” The Atlantic, February 3, 2012. Retrieved Oct. 19, 2020.
 Stacy Cowley and Erica L. Green, “A College Chain Crumbles, and Millions in Student Loan Cash Disappears,” New York Times, March 7, 2019. Retrieved Oct. 19, 2020.
 Dan E. Moldea, Money, Politics, and Corruption in U. S. Higher Education: The Stories of Whistleblowers, p. 79 (2020). ISBN-13: 978-0578661155.
 David Halperin, “Jeb Bush Campaign Adviser Serves on Board of Predatory College ITT,” Republic Report, May 12, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Patricia Cohen, “For-Profit Colleges Accused of Fraud Still Receive U.S. Funds,” New York Times, October 12, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Aarthi Swaminathan, “’I may never give up’: Behind the fight against predatory for-profit schools,” Yahoo! Finance podcast, August 29, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Corporate Crime Reporter, “David Halperin, For Profit Colleges and the Public Private Axis” (October 17, 2013). Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Dan E. Moldea, Money, Politics, and Corruption in U. S. Higher Education: The Stories of Whistleblowers (2020). ISBN-13: 978-0578661155.
 Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, “Are Corinthian Colleges’ former schools on the mend?,” Washington Post, October 21, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 NBC News, “Campus Confusion: Corinthian Colleges Students Face Uncertain Future,” August 15, 2004. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 United States Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions, For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Richard Fossey, “It’s Magic! Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education allows Grand Canyon University to call itself non-profit while its parent company reports profit margin of 27 percent,” Condemned to Debt: The Student Loan Crisis, March 13, 2019. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 House Committee on Oversight and Reform (May 22, 2019), “Examining For-Profit College Oversight and Student Debt.” Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Follow the Lead: An FTC Workshop on Lead Generation – Part 2, October 30, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Scam: Websites Promising Jobs And Medicaid Are Instead Bait for For-Profit College Telemarketers,” Republic Report, November 12, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “For-Profit College Marketer Thrived By Posting Fake Ads To Popular Job Sites,” Republic Report, November 24, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Military-Branded Websites Push Veterans to Troubled For-Profit Colleges,” Republic Report, February 1, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “For-Profit College Enrolls, ‘Exploits’ Student Who Reads At Third Grade Level,” Republic Report, June 2, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “ITT Tech CEO Is Sued For Serving Himself As Company Collapsed,” Republic Report, June 13, 2018. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “EDMC Professors and Students Speak: How Lobbyists & Goldman Sachs Ruined For-Profit Education,” Republic Report, September 24, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “As Perdoceo Fights VA Suspension, Employees Say Recruiting Abuses Persist,” Republic Report, June 15, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Scholarship Started by Donald Graham Sends Donor Money To Graham’s For-Profit College,” Republic Report, May 29, 2015. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Inside a For-Profit College Conversion: Lucrative Ties, Troubling Actions,” Republic Report, May 16, 2018. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Leaked Powell Emails Detail Ties to Key For-Profit College Investor,” Republic Report, September 21, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Ex-Employees: Florida Career College Enrolled ‘Anyone With a Pulse,’” Republic Report, September 21, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, Stealing America’s Future: How For-Profit Colleges Scam Taxpayers and Ruin Students’ Lives, e-book (2014).
 Law Enforcement Investigations and Actions Regarding For-Profit Colleges, Republic Report. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Friends In High Places: Who Endorses America’s Troubled For-Profit Colleges?,” Republic Report, June 21, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “On For-Profit College Shutdowns, Lobbyist Gunderson Has No Shame,” Republic Report, April 8, 2019. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Those Troubling For-Profit College Emails: Read Them Here,” Republic Report, September 28, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Marc Fisher, “When a liberal power lawyer represents the Trump family, things can get ugly,” Washington Post, June 11, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Paul Farhi, “News organizations increasingly turn to sponsored discussions as source of revenue,” Washington Post, March 23, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “DeVos Tries Everything to Force Deceived Students to Repay Loans,” Republic Report, June 29, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “DeVos Aide Tailors Decisions to the Predatory Colleges That Employed Her,” Republic Report, August 2, 2018. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “House Committee: DeVos Aide Diane Jones Repeatedly Misled Congress,” Republic Report, July 28, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Press release, Durbin, Warren, Blumenthal, Brown Seek Response To Allegations That Dept Of Education Official Advised Dream Center Education Holdings To Misrepresent Accreditation Status To Students, August 30, 2018. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Steve Horn, “Coal Baron and Major Ken Cuccinelli Campaign Donor Sues Blogger for Defamation, Invasion of Privacy,” DeSmog, November 3, 2013. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Federal Judge Dismisses Libel Suit Brought By Coal CEO Robert Murray: The Opinion,” Republic Report, May 12, 2004. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin and Kert Davies, “The Exxon-Treasury Fight And The Roots Of Russiagate,” Huffington Post, November 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Media for Sale: Coal Lobby Buys Politico, Real Clear Politics Events,” Grist, January 18, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, American Society for Testing v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc., No. 17-7035 (D.C. Cir. 2018). Justia. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Electronic Frontier Foundation, Education Groups Drop Their Lawsuit Against Public.Resource.Org, Give Up Their Quest to Paywall the Law, October 15, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Victor Lee, “Appeals court rules that Georgia annotated code cannot be copyrighted,” ABA Journal, October 23, 2018.
 “Public Citizen Sues Education Department for Allegedly Banning Its Website on Internal Networks,” Law.com, April 9, 2019. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Charles Clark, “Education Dept. Sued Over Blocking Access to Advocacy Group’s Website From Within Office Building,” Government Executive, April 11, 2019. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Jake Johnson, “Public Citizen sues Betsy DeVos for ‘blatant violation of the First Amendment’,” Salon, April 10, 2019. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “The Shultz-Gromyko talks: don’t discuss ‘star wars‘” (December 4, 1984), Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “The Perfect Lobby: How One Industry Captured Washington, DC”, The Nation, April 3, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “The Blueprint Of The For-Profit College Newspeak Campaign,” The Nation, March 12, 2012. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “This Army Veteran Wanted to Become a Video Game Animator,” Slate, July 20, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “8 New Reasons The Electoral College Shouldn’t Vote For Trump,” Huffington Post, November 26, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 David Halperin, “Ethics Breakthrough or Ethics Breakdown: Kenneth Starr’s Dual Role as Private Practitioner and Public Prosecutor,” The Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Winter 2002). Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Allen West, “Why Liberals Want Total Control Of College Education,” Daily Caller, October 12, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Gerard Scimeca, “It’s the Elites vs. the Underdogs in the Battle for Education Choice,” Townhall, October 1, 2020. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
 Jonathan Strong, “Campus Progress reports on for-profit schools issue while coordinating with liberal coalition to push regs,” Daily Caller, January 11, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2020.