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Are For-Profit College ‘Critics’ Up to Their Old Tricks?

About a decade ago, NLPC confronted a network of forces with undisclosed financial interests and ideological motives set out to destroy an entire industry.

They launched a campaign targeting companies who engage in the business of higher education because they earn profit and compete with the much larger traditional non-profit schools. The campaign included a lengthy Senate inquiry, complete with controversial hearings and over-hyped government reports like the “hatchet job” that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) had to take the virtually unprecedented step of correcting.

At the time, NLPC was critical of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and his staff for working with officials in the Obama administration’s Department of Education and outsiders seeking to profit from their effort to destroy for-profit colleges.

So, naturally it piqued our interest to learn that some of the old players appear to have been running the same playbook, this time at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). On January 21, 2020, a group called Veterans Education Success (“VES”) delivered a 3,045-word screed to the VA, attacking for-profit colleges and demanding that the VA commence a major crackdown by preventing veterans from using their GI benefits at certain schools.

Who runs VES? Carrie Wofford, a former Harkin staffer, who was a key part of his attacks a decade ago. She’s the niece of former Sen. Harris Wofford (D-PA) and a longtime “fixture among liberal Democrats in Washington.” Bethany Little was also a key Harkin staffer and is now a VES board member.

VES sent its call to action against for-profit colleges not to the Secretary of the VA, but rather to a career official named Charmain Bogue.

Why?

Well, it just so happens that she is married to Barrett Bogue. And interestingly, Barrett Bogue works for Carrie Wofford at VES. In fact, Barrett Bogue runs a consulting firm whose main client appears to be VES. In a remarkable admission, Barrett has written that his contract with VES was generous enough to allow him to quit his day job and focus on his consulting business full time.

The arrangement raises a host of ethical questions. Chief among them is how can a well-funded interest group pay the husband of a career government employee while simultaneously advocating for his wife to take official action?

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Tags: Barrett Bogue, Veterans Administration, Veterans Education Services