Thursday, March 14, 2019

Our Culture of Corruption - When it comes to college admissions, money talks.

Judd Legum reviews the nationwide conspiracy of cheating and bribery in The Price of Admission.

The Department of Justice arrested 33 wealthy parents on Tuesday for allegedly participating “in a nationwide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the admission of students to elite universities as purported athletic recruits.”

Among those implicated in the scheme were actors Lori Loughlin, known for her role as Aunt Becky on Full House, and Felicity Huffman, known for her role on Desperate Housewives. 13 coaches and test administrators were also arrested.

The alleged mastermind is William “Rick” Singer, who operated the Edge College & Career Network LLC, known as “The Key.” Singer was charged with “racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.”

Here are a couple of examples.

The coxswain scheme

Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, wanted their oldest daughter, Isabella, to attend USC. According to an FBI affidavit, in July 2016, Singer advised them that Isabella’s academic qualifications were “at or below” the “low end” for students admitted to USC.

But Singer had a plan. He would facilitate Isabella’s admission as a coxswain for the crew team. Athletes are given preference in the admission process so that teams can fill out their rosters. Isabella didn’t actually participate in crew, but that didn’t matter. Giannulli sent Singer a picture of Isabella on a rowing machine and a $50,000 check to the Associate Athletic Director at USC. By November, Isabella was provisionally admitted to USC as a member of the crew team.

After Isabella was officially admitted to USC in March, Giannulli sent $200,000 to Key Worldwide, a foundation controlled by Singer.

How Jared got into Harvard

How did Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser, get into Harvard? His father, Charles Kushner, “pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school.” Administrators at Jared Kushner’s high school “described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.”

A former official at The Frisch School, where Jared Kushner went to high school, spoke with journalist Daniel Golden:

There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard. His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.

Charles Kushner was named to “Harvard’s Committee on University Resources” even though he was a graduate of NYU. A spokesman for the Kushner family business said that donation to Harvard had nothing to do with Jared’s admission.

That one earns my Of course not award.

I have a vision of a startup company with one product - a baseball cap with the letters MACA, standing for Making America Corrupt Allover.

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