Lanny Davis appearing on panel in Oct. 2006 while supporting Sen. Joe Lieberman. (photo: matthewnstoller via Flickr)

The most heated policy battle over higher education today concerns the Department of Education’s effort to create rules that protect students and taxpayers from well-documented abuses and shortcomings by for-profit schools. To help lead an army of lobbyists and consultants working to block these rules, key members of the for-profit industry have selected as their general Lanny Davis, who served as a White House lawyer for President Bill Clinton. Davis’s new client is the Coalition for Educational Success (CES), an umbrella group of for-profits, which includes the well-known Art Institutes as well as the more obscure Golf Academy of America and Marinello School of Beauty. Recent lobbying documents show that that CES has already spent $40,000 this year for lobbying on their behalf.

The Education Department issued its new regulations on Thursday, addressing many of the key issues but deferring for several months the most important matter—the final “gainful employment” rules aimed at cutting off federal financial aid to educational programs that produce high rates of student debt and low hiring rates for students. Yesterday, Davis held forth on a call with reporters and claimed the new regulations were “rushed” and that the Department should take more time to evaluate the more than 90,000 comments received during the comment period.

But Davis’s clients won a partial victory in this round. The Department dropped a proposed rule that would have required schools seeking to start new programs to obtain prior approval in order to be eligible for federal aid; instead, schools will be required to notify the Department, which can then seek more information if it has concerns. Davis, it seems, was pleased. The Washington Post noted that Davis thought the updated regulations were a “step in the right direction.” [Disclosure: Campus Progress’ advocacy team is working actively for enactment of regulations imposing tough accountability standards on the for-profits.]

When Davis first joined this debate, it was as a commentator, writing what looked like an opinion piece on June 23 for the newspaper The Hill. Davis attacked “a noted Wall Street short-seller, Steve Eisman” for criticizing for-profit schools without disclosing that he (Eisman) had made financial bets against the schools. But did Davis himself have a disclosure issue here? Perhaps he had not yet entered into discussions with the for-profits to be their paid advocate. Perhaps he was simply auditioning for the lucrative assignment. Or perhaps in a world of critical policy issues on which he could comment, Davis acted solely out of conviction in penning this tribute to schools that have left many students deeply in debt and without marketable skills. In any case, Davis registered as a lobbyist for CES on Sept. 17.

Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald once wrote that Davis “deceitfully inserts the phrase ‘full disclosure’ into the middle of his rant– and then proceeds to ‘disclose’ nothing….”

Davis is well-known in Washington, probably reaching the height of his fame when he helped defend President Bill Clinton during his impeachment battle. For most of his career, he has worked at law firms, lobbying on behalf of numerous clients and some questionable causes. Here are some examples of his work. . . .

• Davis was hired by corporations in the successful effort to derail the Employee Free Choice Act, which would strengthen protections for labor unions. [The Huffington Post, Aug. 10, 2009]

• In 2009, Davis’ law firm, Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe, represented a client, CEAL, the Honduras branch of the Business Council of Latin America. The organization succeeded the Alliance for Progress and Development of Honduras (APROH), which is largely credited with backing a bloody coup in Honduras and committing egregious human rights violations. Robert White, a former U.S. ambassador and now president of the DC-based Center for International Policy, told The American Prospect, “If you want to understand who the real power behind the [Honduran] coup is, you need to find out who’s paying Lanny Davis.” An activist involved with the Center for Women’s Rights in Honduras said, “Mr. Davis is trying to legitimize people who use psychological intimidation and violence. He’s representing the interests of state terror.” Davis is widely credited with shoring up support for the new regime on Capitol Hill. Davis also appeared on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! program to defend his involvement with Honduras. [The American Prospect, July 22, 2009] [The Huffington Post, Aug. 10, 2009]

• Earlier this year, Davis took $1 million to rebrand Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the reportedly corrupt president of the oil-rich West African country Equatorial Guinea. The country has been accused of engaging in human rights violations and holding political prisoners. [The New York Times, June 28, 2010]

• In 2002, HealthSouth Corporation was accused of fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company was charged with erroneously billing Medicare for a therapist giving single-patient treatment when they should have been billed as treating several patients at one time. Davis was hired to represent the company. [The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2002]

• When voice recognition software company Lernout & Hauspie was involved in an accounting scandal that got the Securities and Exchange Commission investigating its inflated revenue numbers, they called Davis. At the time, Davis explained his PR strategy to a reporter at Forbes: He would divert writers about to cover bad news surrounding the company with a positive, forward-looking pitch. Davis called this “bad-news padding.” [Forbes, Nov. 27, 2000]

• The Israel Project, which has come under scrutiny for pushing its pro-Israel views into the deepest corners of power in Washington, has also employed Davis as a lobbyist. The group advertised him as available to speak to the press, touting his connection to former President Clinton. [The Israel Project, Jan. 12, 2009]

Kay Steiger is the editor of CampusProgress.org

[This material was created by Campus Progress]

The most heated policy battle over higher education today concerns the Department of Education’s effort to create rules that protect students and taxpayers from well-documented abuses and shortcomings by for-profit schools. To help lead an army of lobbyists and consultants working to block these rules, key members of the for-profit industry have selected as their general Lanny Davis, who served as a White House lawyer for President Bill Clinton. Davis’s new client is the Coalition for Educational Success (CES), an umbrella group of for-profits, which includes the well-known Art Institutes as well as the more obscure Golf Academy of America and Marinello School of Beauty. Recent lobbying documents show that that CES has already spent $40,000 this year for lobbying on their behalf.

The Education Department issued its new regulations on Thursday, addressing many of the key issues but deferring for several months the most important matter—the final “gainful employment” rules aimed at cutting off federal financial aid to educational programs that produce high rates of student debt and low hiring rates for students. Yesterday, Davis held forth on a call with reporters and claimed the new regulations were “rushed” and that the Department should take more time to evaluate the more than 90,000 comments received during the comment period.

But Davis’s clients won a partial victory in this round. The Department dropped a proposed rule that would have required schools seeking to start new programs to obtain prior approval in order to be eligible for federal aid; instead, schools will be required to notify the Department, which can then seek more information if it has concerns. Davis, it seems, was pleased. The Washington Post noted that Davis thought the updated regulations were a “step in the right direction.” [Disclosure: Campus Progress’ advocacy team is working actively for enactment of regulations imposing tough accountability standards on the for-profits.]

When Davis first joined this debate, it was as a commentator, writing what looked like an opinion piece on June 23 for the newspaper The Hill. Davis attacked “a noted Wall Street short-seller, Steve Eisman” for criticizing for-profit schools without disclosing that he (Eisman) had made financial bets against the schools. But did Davis himself have a disclosure issue here? Perhaps he had not yet entered into discussions with the for-profits to be their paid advocate. Perhaps he was simply auditioning for the lucrative assignment. Or perhaps in a world of critical policy issues on which he could comment, Davis acted solely out of conviction in penning this tribute to schools that have left many students deeply in debt and without marketable skills. In any case, Davis registered as a lobbyist for CES on Sept. 17.

Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald once wrote that Davis “deceitfully inserts the phrase ‘full disclosure’ into the middle of his rant– and then proceeds to ‘disclose’ nothing….”

Davis is well-known in Washington, probably reaching the height of his fame when he helped defend President Bill Clinton during his impeachment battle. For most of his career, he has worked at law firms, lobbying on behalf of numerous clients and some questionable causes. Here are some examples of his work:

• Davis was hired by corporations in the successful effort to derail the Employee Free Choice Act, which would strengthen protections for labor unions. [The Huffington Post, Aug. 10, 2009]

• In 2009, Davis’ law firm, Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe, represented a client, CEAL, the Honduras branch of the Business Council of Latin America. The organization succeeded the Alliance for Progress and Development of Honduras (APROH), which is largely credited with backing a bloody coup in Honduras and committing egregious human rights violations. Robert White, a former U.S. ambassador and now president of the DC-based Center for International Policy, told The American Prospect, “If you want to understand who the real power behind the [Honduran] coup is, you need to find out who’s paying Lanny Davis.” An activist involved with the Center for Women’s Rights in Honduras said, “Mr. Davis is trying to legitimize people who use psychological intimidation and violence. He’s representing the interests of state terror.” Davis is widely credited with shoring up support for the new regime on Capitol Hill. Davis also appeared on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! program to defend his involvement with Honduras. [The American Prospect, July 22, 2009] [The Huffington Post, Aug. 10, 2009]

• Earlier this year, Davis took $1 million to rebrand Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the reportedly corrupt president of the oil-rich West African country Equatorial Guinea. The country has been accused of engaging in human rights violations and holding political prisoners. [The New York Times, June 28, 2010]

• In 2002, HealthSouth Corporation was accused of fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company was charged with erroneously billing Medicare for a therapist giving single-patient treatment when they should have been billed as treating several patients at one time. Davis was hired to represent the company. [The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2002]

• When voice recognition software company Lernout & Hauspie was involved in an accounting scandal that got the Securities and Exchange Commission investigating its inflated revenue numbers, they called Davis. At the time, Davis explained his PR strategy to a reporter at Forbes: He would divert writers about to cover bad news surrounding the company with a positive, forward-looking pitch. Davis called this “bad-news padding.” [Forbes, Nov. 27, 2000]

• The Israel Project, which has come under scrutiny for pushing its pro-Israel views into the deepest corners of power in Washington, has also employed Davis as a lobbyist. The group advertised him as available to speak to the press, touting his connection to former President Clinton. [The Israel Project, Jan. 12, 2009]

Kay Steiger is the editor of CampusProgress.org

[This material was created by Campus Progress]

Rayne

Rayne

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, FDL community member since 2005, geek since birth.

Fan of science and technology, wannabe artist, decent cook, successful troublemaker and purveyor of challenging memetics whose genetics may be only nominally better.

Assistant Editor at Firedoglake and Editor at The Seminal.