Betsy DeVos Held in Contempt by Judge Because the Dept. of Education Keeps Collecting Illegal Student LoansPhoto courtesy of Getty Politics Features Betsy DeVos
This story, reported by Politico, is as good a summation as you’ll get of Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. It seems that despite being ordered to stop collecting student loans from defunct “for-profit” colleges, they just keep on grabbing that money, and one judge got sick of it:
A federal judge on Thursday held Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt of court and imposed a $100,000 fine for violating an order to stop collecting on the student loans owed by students of a defunct for-profit college.
The exceedingly rare judicial rebuke of a Cabinet secretary came after the Trump administration was forced to admit to the court earlier this year that it erroneously collected on the loans of some 16,000 borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges despite being ordered to stop doing so.
The “minimal efforts” to comply weren’t enough for U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Kim, but unfortunately the $100,000 fine will come not from DeVos’ pockets, but from the government (i.e., your tax dollars).
The Education Department was not pleased, claiming that they had acknowledged the mistake and that “as of today” they had made all the wrongly charged borrowers “whole”:
We’re disappointed in the court’s ruling. We acknowledged that servicers made unacceptable mistakes. @BetsyDeVosED directed @FAFSA to take immediate action to help every impacted borrower. As of today, @FAFSA has taken the actions needed to make every impacted borrower whole. pic.twitter.com/10kgh63bhH
— U.S. Department of Education (@usedgov) October 25, 2019
That “as of today” is a critical phrase—would they have taken any action if they hadn’t been hounded by the courts and eventually fined? Some, like director of Harvard Law School Toby Merrill, think not. Politico, again:
“It’s a rare and powerful action by the court to hold the secretary in contempt,” she said. “And it reflects the extreme harm that Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education have caused students who were already defrauded by a for-profit college.”
Earlier this month, Elizabeth Warren went so far as to call for DeVos’ resignation over the issue:
.@usedgov needs to follow the law & cancel the student loans of scammed Corinthian Colleges students. And if @BetsyDeVosED wants to work for predatory for-profit colleges, she should resign & find herself a new job.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) October 9, 2019
No word yet on whether DeVos and the Education Department will appeal the ruling.