And the beat goes on: the Clinton money muddle

Addendum, Sept. 6, 2016: Good to see the major media finally pick up on payments to Bill Clinton by Laureate Education for-profit schools company.

Inside Bill Clinton’s nearly $18 million job as ‘honorary chancellor’ of a for-profit college

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Bill Clinton at the “Laureate Summit on Youth and Jobs at Universidad Europa in Madrid, Spain in May 2013

 

 

Conservative media screwed up last week….bad.

Hillary and Bill Clinton released their 2015 tax returns on Friday, Aug. 12. The Daily Caller, a conservative website, sensed blood when it reviewed the return and concluded that of the $1,042,000 in charitable contributions Hillary and Bill claimed, $1 million went to the high profile and controversial Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

With great fanfare, and obvious delight, The Daily Caller went on the attack, accusing the Clintons of self-dealing. Other conservative news sites gleefully repeated the story.

But they got it wrong.

The $1 million went, instead, to the Clinton Family Foundation, an entirely separate non-profit headquartered in Chappaqua, New York that was formed in 2002 and serves as a philanthropic vehicle for the Clinton family.

The liberal media exulted in the conservatives’ embarrassment. Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog, said “An embarrassing misreading” of the Clintons’ tax returns (by the Daily Caller) …led to publication of an entire article based on a “false premise”.

But the story shouldn’t end there.

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If you dig deeper, you find that in addition to the $1 million that went to the Clinton Family Foundation in 2015, the Clintons donated $42,000 to Desert Classic Charities, which holds an annual PGA golf event in Southern California’s Coachella Valley. That organization turned right around and effectively returned the donation by giving $700,000 to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. That was the Desert Classic Charities’ largest single contribution. Other than a $295.000 donation to the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, CA, no other donation exceeded $25,000.

The Clinton Family Foundation hasn’t released its 2015 tax returns. However, according to its 2014 990-PF filing with the IRS, Bill and Hillary donated $3 million to the Family Foundation. It turned around and donated $1,865,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation in Little Rock, Arkansas, the original name of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Similar self-serving transfers occurred in 2013, when the Family Foundation made its single largest donation, $300,000, to the William J. Clinton Foundation and $5,000 to the Clinton Birthplace Foundation of Hope, Arkansas. In 2012, the Family Foundation donated $220,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation, also its largest single contribution.

The Clinton’s 2015 tax filing also reveals that Bill Clinton earned about $1.7 million from a consulting business he created, WJC L.L.C. That included $1.1 million from Laureate Education, a for-profit education company, and $562,000 from Dubai-based GEMS Education, a for-profit operator of kindergarten-to-grade-12 schools, which says it has a network of 91 schools serving 250,000 students in over a dozen countries. Its only U.S. school is GEMS World Academy at 350 East South Water St. in Chicago.

Selling out as a corporate shill has rarely been so lucrative as it has been for ex-president Bill Clinton.

In 2010, he signed on to become an “Honorary Chancellor” for Laureate International Universities, part of Baltimore, MD-based Laureate Education Inc. Laureate grew out of the K-12 tutoring company, Sylvan Learning Systems, in 2004 when Sylvan was spun off.

The company was taken private in a $3.8 billion deal in 2007. Investors included KKR & Co., Soros Fund Management, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors, Citi Private Equity, Sterling Capital and others.

In Oct. 2015, the company, then $4.7 billion in debt, filed for an Initial Public Offering (IPO), but it has run into headwinds.

In return for serving as a front man for the privately held company, Clinton collected $16.5 million between 2010 and 2014. Laureate also has made multi-million dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation. He resigned as honorary chancellor in April 2015, but has obviously found a way to keep making money off the relationship. It will be interesting to see whether Bill Clinton benefits financially if the IPO is successful.

As for GEMS, Bill Clinton has been taking money from that organization since he was appointed honorary chairman of GEMS’ philanthropic arm, the Varkey Foundation, in December 2010. Since then GEMS has paid him more than $5.625 million ($500,000 in 2011; $1.25 million in 2012; $1.75 million in 2013; $2.125 million in 2014; 2015 – NA)

Bill’s income from Laureate and GEMS is of particular interest because Hillary, following on Barack Obama’s policies, has promised to crack down on the for-profit education industry.

It’s also worth noting that the Clinton’s 2015 tax filing shows their income firmly entrenched them in the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers, far from the middle class on which Hillary Clinton says her presidential campaign is focused and far from when Hillary claimed she and Bill were broke after leaving the White House.

“We have a life experience that is clearly different in very dramatic ways from many Americans,” Clinton said in an ABC TV interview in 2014.

I’ll say!

Addendum, Sept. 6, 2016: Gee, nice of the major media to finally pick up on the Laureate connection to the Clintons:

Inside Bill Clinton’s nearly $18 million job as ‘honorary chancellor’ of a for-profit college

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Shameless: Bill Clinton and Laureate Education Inc.

During his 1992 campaign for the presidency, Bill Clinton proclaimed that if he was elected the county would benefit because it would “get two for the price of one”, him and Hillary.

Now there are indications that, with Hillary slipping in the polls, Bill plans to hit the hustings again to reinforce the “two for one” mantra. If that’s true, he may bring more controversy than help given his tarnished past.

Part of that past is his association with Laureate Education Inc.

Selling out as a corporate shill has rarely been so lucrative as it has been for ex-president Bill Clinton.

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In 2010, he signed on to become an “Honorary Chancellor” for Laureate International Universities, part of Baltimore, MD-based Laureate Education Inc. In return for serving as a front man for the privately held for-profit education company, Clinton collected $16.5 million between 2010 and 2014. Laureate also has donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Logos Laureate

While Clinton worked for Laureate, he and the company consistently refused to say how much he was being paid, but an analysis of the Clinton’s tax returns in July revealed the numbers. In the statement released with their tax returns, Hillary Clinton said of their financial success, “…we owe it to the opportunities America provides.” Well, that’s one way to look at it.

Laureate aggressively marketed its relationship with Bill Clinton and it often paid off. New York Magazine described Clinton as the “face” of Laureate. When Laureate secured approval to build a new for-profit university, Torrens University Australia, in Adelaide, South Australia (where for-profits are called “private” institutions), the headline in The Australian newspaper read: “First private uni in 24 years led by Clinton.”

Bill Clinton at Torrens

Bill Clinton at Torrens

(Subsequent reporting on the school has, however, not been all that positive. The consensus world university rankings for Australia put Torrens dead last in a list of 41 Australian universities in 2015.)

Clinton resigned his Honorary Chancellor position at Laureate in April 2015. “Laureate students represent the next generation of leadership. I have seen a commitment to quality and leadership throughout the Laureate network, and I have enjoyed being a part of it,” Clinton said in announcing his resignation.

Had Clinton not resigned, Laureate likely intended to use its close ties with him to bolster a planned $1 billion initial public offering (IPO). In April 2015,

Clinton may hold the Laureate network in high regard, but if he’d done his homework he’d have found a lot of reasons not to sign on to Laureate’s marketing campaign (aside from avoiding blatant money-grubbing).

As New York Magazine put it, “While some of the company’s schools are highly ranked, others have been accused of low admissions and academic standards, “turbocharging enrollment” to boost revenues, and deceptiveness about tuition costs — the same troubling practices that caused the Obama administration to try to stanch the flow of federal-student-loan dollars to for-profit schools in the United States.”

Even Bill’s wife has been critical of for-profit colleges. “Unfortunately there are some programs that take people’s money and do not produce the results that were promised, and we’ve got to crack down on that and put them out of business,” Hillary said during a June 2015 event at Trident Technical College in South Carolina.

Laureate has 86 schools serving about 1 million students online and on physical campuses in 28 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It’s 5 schools in the U.S. include: NewSchool of Architecture & Design, San Diego, CA; Santa Fe University of Art & Design, Santa Fe, NM; Kendall College, Chicago, Il; University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, St. Augustine, FL; and the online-only Walden University, Minneapolis, MN.

Laureate also operated The National Hispanic University in East San Jose, CA, but it closed in August 23, 2015. The San Jose Mercury News attributed the closure to the U.S. Department of Education reducing financial aid and online opportunities for students enrolled in programs that did not offer good prospects for employment. Other media reported that the school also failed to meet its goals in enrollment for online coursework.

Laureate grew out of the K-12 tutoring company, Sylvan Learning Systems, in 2004 when Sylvan was spun off.

The company was taken private in a $3.8 billion deal in 2007. Investors included KKR & Co., Soros Fund Management, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors, Citi Private Equity, Sterling Capital and others.

In 2013, the International Finance Corp, part of the World Bank Group, joined the list of supporters when it made an equity investment of $150 million in Laureate “to expand access to career-oriented higher education in emerging markets and support the growth of Laureate’s global network of institutions.”