Inside Bill Clinton’s nearly $18 million job as ‘honorary chancellor’ of a for-profit college
Washington Post, Sept 5, 2016
In addition to recommending invitations for leaders from a community college and a church-funded institution, Clinton wanted a representative from a for-profit college company called Laureate International Universities.
There was a reason Clinton favored setting a seat aside for Laureate at the August 2009 event: The company was started by a businessman, Doug Becker, “who Bill likes a lot,” the secretary wrote, referring to her husband, the former president.
Nine months later, Laureate signed Bill Clinton to a lucrative deal as a consultant and “honorary chancellor,” paying him $17.6 million over five years until the contract ended in 2015 as Hillary Clinton launched her campaign for president.
The Baltimore-based company had much to gain from an association with a globally connected ex-president and, indirectly, the United States’ chief diplomat. Being included at the 2009 dinner, shoulder to shoulder with leaders from internationally renowned universities provided an added level of credibility for the business as it pursued an aggressive expansion strategy overseas, occasionally tangling with foreign regulators.
“A lot of these private-education guys, they’re looking to get into events like this one,” said Sam Pitroda, a higher-education expert who was representing a policy commission from India at the State Department dinner. “The discussion itself is irrelevant. . . . It gets you very high-level contacts, and it gets you to the right people.”
While much of the controversy about Hillary Clinton’s State Department tenure has involved donations to her family’s charity, the Clinton Foundation, a close examination of the Laureate deal reveals how Bill Clinton leveraged the couple’s connections during that time to enhance their personal wealth.
In addition to his well-established career as a paid speaker, which began soon after he left the Oval Office, Bill Clinton took on new consulting work starting in 2009, at the same time Hillary Clinton assumed her post at the State Department. Laureate was the highest-paying client, but Bill Clinton signed contracts worth millions with GEMS Education, a secondary-education chain based in Dubai, as well as Shangri-La Industries and Wasserman Investment, two companies run by longtime Democratic donors. All told, with his consulting, writing and speaking fees, Bill Clinton was paid $65.4 million during Hillary Clinton’s four years as secretary of state.
Details of Bill Clinton’s compensation are found in the couple’s tax returns, which provide an unusual glimpse into the way a former president can make millions in the private sector. Bill Clinton has proved particularly marketable because of his global celebrity, enhanced by his foundation, his continued visibility on the political scene and his wife’s stature as a senator, Cabinet official and potential president.
The Laureate arrangement illustrates the extent to which the Clintons mixed their charitable work with their private and political lives. Many of those who paid Bill Clinton to consult or speak were also foundation donors and, in some cases, supporters of political campaigns for one or both Clintons.
Becker, for example, donated to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and last year donated $2,700 to her current effort. Laureate has given between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to the charity’s website, and made millions of dollars of charitable commitments through the Clinton Global Initiative, an arm of the foundation that arranged for corporations to make public pledges to their own philanthropic projects. Meanwhile, Laureate portrayed its association with the Clintons as a symbol of its legitimacy rather than the result of a business deal.
The company has been intertwined over the years with the global financial elite. Once publicly traded, it was bought out for $3.8 billion in 2007 with investments from, among others, a private-equity firm founded by liberal philanthropist George Soros, as well as the investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
Laureate, which is taking steps to become publicly traded again, has in recent years been largely focused on growing internationally. Typically, it has purchased financially struggling colleges and vocational schools while boosting profits through expanding enrollment. The company has said in regulatory filings that it enrolls more than 1 million students on 87 campuses in 28 countries. It has five U.S. Campuses.
Laureate hired Clinton as scrutiny of private colleges was increasing in the United States and internationally. Congress in 2010 launched an investigation into for-profit schools, which critics say profit from needy students while making often grand but unfulfilled promises of valuable degrees.
Laureate has clashed at times with regulators in other countries, such as Chile, where the law forbids for-profit education and Laureate operates by acting as a contractor to local nonprofit institutions.
Clinton’s contract with Laureate was approved by the State Department’s ethics office, in keeping with an Obama administration agreement with Hillary Clinton that gave the agency the right to review her husband’s outside work during her tenure.
Based on appearances on Laureate’s behalf by Clinton and public statements by the company, it seems that part of the strategy in hiring the former president was to bolster Laureate’s image by aligning it with the former president’s famous charitable efforts — thereby portraying the company as a force for good in the world.
Also that year, Laureate prominently featured its association with Clinton as part of its effort to purchase the Thunderbird School of Global Management, a 70-year-old private business school in Arizona that was struggling financially.
Karen Longo, a graduate of the school who was on the board of directors at the time, recalled that Becker specifically referenced the Clinton tie when he pitched the board on the deal. “His face, his name was in all their brochures,” Longo recalled. “It was a very big sell for them.”
She and other alumni were concerned that Laureate would lower the school’s admissions standards to expand its enrollment in an effort to make more money from the campus. “The more students they got, the more money they got from student-loan funds,” she said.
The Clintons’ Laureate connection emerged as a campaign issue earlier this summer, when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump charged that Hillary Clinton “laundered money” to her husband by funneling tens of millions of dollars in federal grants to Laureate while she was secretary of state.
Founded in 1989, the International Youth Foundation has partnered with Laureate campuses in some of its charitable education work. The group has received USAID funding since 1999, and its president said the increase in USAID funding under Clinton was largely a result of the receipt of multi-year grants awarded before she entered office.
A group of students at Walden, a Minneapolis-based online school, sued Laureate in 2015, arguing that the institution unnecessarily dragged out their education so they would have to pay more. Laureate denied the allegation, and the lawsuit was settled out of court.
As of July, three of Laureate’s five U.S. schools were included on a government list of 500 schools that receive additional financial oversight.
Outside the State Department, Laureate’s ties extended into the world of the Clintons in other ways. Politico has reported that Laureate and GEMS Education were both clients of Teneo Holdings, a consulting group founded by longtime Bill Clinton aide Doug Band that paid Clinton a $100,000 fee in 2011. Band declined to comment, as did Laureate.
The Clintons were also close to Duffey, a top Laureate official who has been friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton since the two worked as young staffers for his unsuccessful campaign for the Senate in Connecticut in 1970.
Hillary Clinton requested that her staff invite a Laureate official to her 2009 State Department policy dinner.
Уроды США: Obama и Bush, Trump … а Порочная Баба Clinton Хуже Всех!
Правительство США жестоко нарушало мои права человека при проведении кампании террора, которая заставила меня покинуть свою родину и получить политическое убежище в СССР. См. книгу «Безмолвный террор — История политических гонений на семью в США» — «Silent Terror: One family’s history of political persecution in the United States» — http://arnoldlockshin.wordpress.com
Правительство США еще нарушает мои права, в течении более 12 лет отказывается от выплаты причитающейся мне пенсии по старости. Властители США воруют пенсию!! Всё это — ещё доказательство, что настоящий действующий закон в США — Закон джунглей.
ФСБ — Федеральная служба «безопасности» России — вслед за позорным, предавшим страну предшественником КГБ, выполняет приказы секретного, кровавого хозяина (boss) — американского ЦРУ (CIA). Среди таких «задач» — запретить меня выступать в СМИ и не пропускать отправленных мне комментариев. А это далеко не всё…
Арнольд Локшин, политэмигрант из США