Like almost everyone else in the Trump administration, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been caught once again doing the exact opposite of “draining the swamp.”
A New York Times investigation published Sunday found that members of an investigative team at the Education Department created during the Obama administration to police fraudulent activity by for–profit colleges have been “marginalized, reassigned or instructed to focus on other matters.”
This has “effectively killed investigations,” the report said. DeVos then hired several people who worked at the colleges under investigation.
The report said:
During the final months of the Obama administration, the team had expanded to include a dozen or so lawyers and investigators who were looking into advertising, recruitment practices and job placement claims at several institutions, including DeVry Education Group.
The investigation into DeVry ground to a halt early last year. Later, in the summer, Ms. DeVos named Julian Schmoke, a former dean at DeVry, as the team’s new supervisor.
Only three people currently work on the team, and their tasks largely have nothing to do with its original mandate.
Additional investigations into Bridgepoint Education and Career Education Corporation also came to an end, according to the Times. Devos’ senior counsel, Robert Eitel, was vice president for regulatory legal services at Bridgepoint, and senior adviser Diane Auer Jones was senior vice president at Career Education Corporation, according to her LinkedIn profile. Carlos Muñiz, a consultant to Career Education, became general counsel to the department.
The newspaper also reported that Bridgepoint is a former client of current White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp.
The Times reported:
The investigative team had been created in 2016 after the collapse of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges, which set off a wave of complaints from students about predatory activities at for-profit schools. The institutions had been accused of widespread fraud that involved misrepresenting enrollment benefits, job placement rates and program offerings, which could leave students with huge debts and no degrees.
In December 2016, the Federal Trade Commission announced that DeVry had agreed to pay a $100 million settlement for misleading prospective students “with ads that touted high employment success rates and income levels upon graduation.”
“When people are making important decisions about their education and their future, they should not be misled by deceptive employment and earnings claims,” then FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said at the time.
“Unfortunately, Secretary DeVos seems to think the colleges need protection from their students,” Aaron Ament, who helped create the investigative team under the Obama administration, told the newspaper.