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In Campaign To Defeat Political Opponent, Subprime College Exerts Potentially Illegal Pressure On Its Own Employees

By Pat Garofalo on August 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm

"In Campaign To Defeat Political Opponent, Subprime College Exerts Potentially Illegal Pressure On Its Own Employees"

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Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (D) has been investigating a string of for-profit colleges in his home state, after well-documented abuses were uncovered at the schools. As we’ve noted, many for-profit colleges make the overwhelming majority of their revenue from the federal government, while leaving their students buried in debt and with bleak job prospects. The industry has been fighting new regulations meant to rein in some of its worst practices.

Conway’s investigation has not been met kindly by the schools. “For-profit schools should acknowledge and work to correct the well-documented issues involving high student loan default rates, overaggressive recruiting practices, misleading advertising and high student withdrawal rates. Instead, some schools and their trade associations have opted to lob attacks,” Conway noted in an op-ed. In addition, as the Lexington Herald-Leader reported, one of these subprime schools is actively pressuring its employees to donate to Conway’s November opponent, Todd P’Pool (R):

Executives at a for-profit college under investigation by Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway urged scores of employees at a gathering last week to support his Republican challenger in the Nov. 8 election.

Kayla Porter, a former admissions officer at Spencerian College in Louisville, said she and her colleagues were told during a two-day training summit in Louisville to vote for and give campaign donations to Republican Todd P’Pool.

“I was asked to raise my hand and say yes, I would send money to the campaign of Todd P’Pool. It was a group setting of 150 of my colleagues,” Porter said Wednesday.

Kentucky law “makes it a felony for employers to ‘coerce or direct any employee to vote for any political party or candidate.’” The school’s attorney has, thus far, blown off the charges, saying, “I’m told there were more than 100 people in the room, and so far, only 25 people have donated. I think it’s much ado about nothing.”

The for-profit college industry has been going all out to protect its valuable taxpayer subsidies, while lobbying hard against efforts that it be held accountable for the miserable student outcomes it is producing. And it seems that the industry is also willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that those politicians it doesn’t like are bumped out of office.

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