The California Democrats running for U.S. Senate delved Wednesday into their records on for-profit colleges, with Loretta Sanchez continuing to tie Attorney General Kamala Harris to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and the businessman’s defunct Trump University.
Harris’ camp dismissed the links to Trump as a political smear and pointed to the state’s leadership in targeting for-profit schools that prey on students who rely heavily on federal student aid.
Harris and Sanchez are Hillary Clinton supporters and have been outspoken about their distaste for Trump. But Sanchez, a congresswoman from Orange County in recent days has repeatedly highlighted Trump’s contributions to Harris in 2011 and 2013, suggesting a connection between the donations and the state’s failure to bring charges against Trump University, a for-profit seminar program mostly shuttered in 2011.
The Sanchez campaign, trailing in polls and fundraising, is drawing a direct parallel between Harris and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Trump surrogate who critics charge was swayed against joining an investigation into Trump University after receiving money from Trump’s nonprofit foundation.
You really have to question why Trump contributed twice to Harris when Trump University was coming under scrutiny, and you have to question why Harris accepted the contributions from Trump.
Luis Vizcaino, spokesman for Rep. Loretta Sanchez
“The questions that apply to Attorney General Bondi apply to Attorney General Harris,” Sanchez spokesman Luis Vizcaino said Wednesday, calling the inaction “shameful.”
“When you have a candidate who says he contributed to political candidates for favors then you really have to question why Trump contributed twice to Harris when Trump University was coming under scrutiny, and you have to question why Harris accepted the contributions from Trump,” Vizcaino said.
Harris’ office confirmed it is investigating Trump University. Her campaign reacted to the mounting critiques Wednesday by accusing Sanchez of orchestrating a “Trump-like smear” against her even after Sanchez sided with for-profits years ago in their efforts to fend off stricter federal regulations. Among the biggest achievements touted by Harris is her hand in shutting down Corinthian Colleges and securing a $1.1 billion judgment.
“While Kamala Harris’ investigation and suit against Corinthian (Colleges) led to the collapse of the predatory for-profit chain, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez joined an army of lobbyists to protect Corinthian and other predatory for-profits in Congress,” said Juan Rodriguez, Harris’ campaign manager.
“Sanchez helped lead the fight against Obama Administration rules to reign in Corinthian and other predatory for-profit colleges, and even received thousands in Corinthian political donations.”
While Kamala Harris’ investigation and suit against Corinthian (Colleges) led to the collapse of the predatory for-profit chain, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez joined an army of lobbyists to protect Corinthian and other predatory for-profits in Congress.
Juan Rodriguez, Kamala Harris’ campaign manager
Trump’s contributions to Harris totaling $6,000 were redirected to charity after drawing political scrutiny. Harris accepted the first $5,000 in 2011, a year after a class action lawsuit was brought against Trump University.
Trump donated the rest to Harris in 2013, the same year New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Trump and Trump University for defrauding students “with (his) sham ‘university.’”
Also in 2013, Harris announced her industrywide investigation involving several for-profit institutions by filing her lawsuit against Corinthian, which operated two dozen Everest, Heald and WyoTech campuses in California, and more than 100 in North America.
Among the other colleges on the probe list was Trump University, the Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday. A spokesman said he could not disclose any details about the timing and nature of its investigation into Trump University out of concern that it would compromise the probe.
On Tuesday, Schneiderman said his office was looking into whether Trump’s foundation complied with New York state law when it donated to support Bondi.