Clintons Face Criticism Over Financial Ties to Laureate Education

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

*** This article has been amended on Friday, August 19 at 12:01pm EST.

According to tax returns recently released by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, her husband and former president Bill Clinton made $1.6 million from two for-profit education companies last year.

Laureate Education paid Bill Clinton nearly $1.1 million in 2015, and GEMS Education of Dubai paid him more than $560,000. Both companies are major donors to the Clinton Foundation.

Critics have asked how closely his personal fortune and his philanthropic activities are linked.

Douglas Becker, the CEO of Laureate, is also the chairman of a nonprofit called the International Youth Foundation. IYF received millions in taxpayer-funded grants in 2010 from the US Agency for International Development, which is a de facto arm of the State Department, reports Sarah Westwood of the Washington Examiner.

In the past, the couple has faced criticism on championing affordable or free higher education while also accepting paychecks from one of the largest for-profit education companies in the world.

Bill’s contract as Laureate’s honorary chancellor ended last April at the same time that Hillary announced her intention to run for president. His role was to advise the company on educational matters and to travel to campuses across the world to speak to young people.

Bill’s total compensation from Laureate adds up to more than $17.5 million.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has accused Hillary of laundering money through Laureate while she was secretary of state, but fact-checkers have proved this accusation wrong. House Republicans have asked the federal government to investigate the Clintons’ ties to the Laureate company.

Laureate’s international operations are the largest global network of degree-granting universities in the world. They teach more than 1 million students across 28 countries in more than 80 institutions. In the United States, Laureate owns Minneapolis-based online school Walden University, which, along with all for-profit education providers, is being watched closely by the US Department of Education in an effort to hold institutions more accountable on financial responsibility and academic outcomes.

Laureate is now in the process of going public after filing for an initial public offering (IPO) last fall, reports Michael Stratford of Politico. However, this attempt could be doomed because of their record-keeping as well as its connections to the controversies surrounding the Clinton Foundation.

On May 26, 2016, the company released a Securities and Exchange Commission filing update in which they told potential investors that their financial statements may be unreliable and that they have uncovered “five material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting.”

The company is $4.8 billion in debt, reports Richard Pollock of the Daily Caller, and may be unable to survive a failed IPO.

Laureate Education, founded by Douglas L. Becker, was created by Sylvan Learning Systems in 1998 as a division to focus on post-secondary education. In 2003, Sylvan Learning Systems decided to focus only on post-secondary education, and sold the name and trademark, as well as their K-12 offerings, to Apollo Management’s Educate, Inc. and changed its name to Laureate Education.

*** Correction: A spokesperson for Laureate, via the Brunswick Group LLC, noted objections over language about Laureate CEO Douglas Becker’s role with the International Youth Foundation, which has been re-worded for clarity. Language about the US Department of Education’s efforts to hold for-profit institutions accountable has also been changed to reflect that the sector as a whole, which includes Laureate, Walden, etc., is facing federal scrutiny over financial operations and academic outcomes.