Obama Crony Caught Up in Massive Fraud Scandal Dating Back to Barrack's Reign
Liberals used to harp constantly about a Trump University “scandal” that never seemed to get off the ground, but could an “Obama University” scandal be about to implode?
That’s at least one possible takeaway from an article by The Daily Caller on Monday, which noted that the nation’s largest for-profit university is still under heavy scrutiny two years after it was purchased by a group close to Obama.
“The University of Phoenix is still facing a federal investigation more than two years after a private equity firm with close ties to former President Barack Obama made a deal to purchase the for-profit college, despite one executive’s promise to operate ‘with the highest ethical standards,'” The Daily Caller reported.
“The Vistria Group is run by Martin Nesbitt, who’s been described as Obama’s best friend and is also chairman of the Obama Foundation. The Apollo Education Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, agreed to be bought in February 2016, and Vistria completed the $1.1 billion purchase a year later.”
Apollo Education had been significantly affected by Obama-era regulations on for-profit institutions of higher learning, which saw its enrollment decline by over half, from a high of over half a million to 140,000 today.
Some of those regulations were rolled back under the Trump administration, yet the University of Phoenix continues to be under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.
So, what’s the investigation focusing on now? How far has it progressed? We don’t really know. That’s because Nesbitt’s Vistria Group took Apollo private after its purchase was complete — after 22 years of Apollo being publicly traded.
Private companies don’t need to file any report of their activities with the Securities and Exchange Commission — reports that would include details of any investigations it might face on either the federal or state level.
“How opaque this all is now,” Dahn Shaulis, who runs College Meltdown, told The Daily Caller. The higher education expert has been critical of for-profit universities in the past.
“Previously, you really had a good idea of what their enrollment was, looking at their balance sheet and their extensive SEC reports,” Shaulis said. “Now, that information has just disappeared.”
So, where is the government now? FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan confirmed to The Daily Caller that the company was under investigation but declined to offer specifics. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office said that it “can’t comment on, even to confirm or deny, a potential or ongoing investigation.” The state had previously opened an investigation against the University of Phoenix under former Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Apollo Education certainly wasn’t going to comment.
The last public report Apollo had to file, back in 2016, didn’t paint a particularly rosy picture.
In the report, the company noted that it had been the recipient of a “civil investigative demand” by the FTC, which wanted “to determine if certain unnamed persons, partnerships, corporations, or others have engaged or are engaging in deceptive or unfair acts or practices in or affecting commerce in the advertising, marketing, or sale of secondary or postsecondary educational products or services or educational accreditation products or services.”
The report also stated that the FTC sought a “broad spectrum of the business and practices of University of Phoenix,” including a review of its “marketing, recruiting, enrollment, financial aid, tuition and fees, academic programs, academic advising, student retention, billing and debt collection, complaints, accreditation, training, military recruitment, and other compliance matters.”
The great irony of this all is that Barack Obama’s administration practically put these schools out of business as part of its holy jihad against for-profit institutions.
Whether or not this was called for isn’t really the question here. The question is why the school was purchased by a man so close to the president, and why it’s still under investigation.
And make no mistake, the two are close. A 2013 profile of Nesbitt by the Chicago Tribune stated that “(a)round the White House, Nesbitt, his wife and their five children are known affectionately as ‘The Nesbitt Nation.’
“The Nesbitt and Obama families began to interweave around 1980 when Nesbitt was being recruited to play basketball for Princeton University, and Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s brother, played on the Princeton team. After moving to Chicago for business school, Nesbitt became friends with Obama through pickup basketball games, unaware of his friend’s potential or even his Harvard Law School pedigree,” the article notes.
“Washington insiders often chide Obama as a loner — ‘President Standoffish,’ one columnist wrote recently. During the 2008 campaign at least, the Obamas had a ‘no more new friends’ rule. They chose instead to surround themselves with trusted, longtime pals, Nesbitt chief among them, who were positive and calming.”
“President Safe-Space” might be more like it, but I digress. There’s also the fact that prominent Democrats lobbied for the Vistria Group and that, according to The Daily Caller, the “Department of Education substantially weakened the student aid Title IV capital requirements from 25 percent to 10 percent,” which in part allowed the deal to take place, the New York Post reported in a Jan. 3, 2017, story.
Diane Jones, a former Bush administration secretary in the Department of Education during the George W. Bush administration, told the Post that the department rarely changed its recommendations once they have been made public.
“I think every way you look at this transaction is questionable and suspicious,” she said.
The private equity firm also employs several prominent members from the Obama administration and the orbit of the Clinton family, a fact that probably shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Back when the company bought Apollo, Vistria Chief Operating Officer Tony Miller said it would operate the company “with the highest ethical standards.”
Now, we don’t even know what ethical standards they’re operating under, given that they’ve gone private and stocked up on prominent Democrats — which I’m sure had nothing to do with Washington connections and everything to do with their talent for the position.
What we do know is that they’re still under investigation by the FTC for their practices, even after these “highest ethical standards” were put into place and plenty of help was mustered from the left side of the aisle.
Could this be end up being “Obama University?” There are certainly enough bizarre connections here to make us wonder. Stay tuned.
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