Politics

Star Harkin witness’s testimony under fire

When Pruyn received a copy of Paoletta’s letter in December 2010, he immediately forwarded it to two lawyers from the James, Hoyer Newcomer & Smiljanich law firm, which is currently involved in four class-action lawsuits against Westwood.

One of the lawyers, Angie Moreschi, was also involved in collaborating with top Harkin aides to edit Pruyn’s written and oral testimony at the Aug. 4 hearing — along with an official from a far-left special interest group.

With Pruyn’s testimony now under fire, Moreschi helped him craft a response to Westwood’s new evidence.

Moreschi scheduled a phone call to discuss the matter with Pruyn. Then Moreschi edited a one-and-one-half-page response Pruyn was sending to Harkin, copying two key Harkin aides, Ryan McCord and Beth Stein, on the email with her edits attached.

“Josh, I think you stated your clarifications well. I’ve gone through and made some edits and moved a few sentences around,” Moreschi wrote in a December 21 email.

Moreschi’s edits generally cleaned up Pruyn’s prose, but she changed the tone and substance of his remarks in some cases. For instance, Pruyn had written “Westwood’s call records cannot verify” his testimony. Moreschi changed the sentence to read the call records “may not” verify the testimony.

She also added a sentence, “The fact that Westwood says it recently contacted Jeffrey, and they say he told them he did not recall all those he talked with is hardly confirmation that the calls did not occur, particularly given that it was more than two and a half years ago,” Moreschi wrote, according to tracked document changes.

The evidence Westwood presented, which included a series of other objections to the veracity of Pruyn’s testimony and allegations in a Government Accountability Office report also unveiled at the pivitol Aug. 4 hearing, did nothing to change Harkin’s mind about the school.

Harkin spokeswoman Justine Sessions said, “Committee staff reviewed Westwood’s letter, discussed it with all involved parties, and determined that the charges Westwood was making against Josh Pruyn did not undermine the overall credibility of his testimony. In fact, the problems Josh testified about were borne out by further investigation.”

Sessions’s statement does not say Harkin’s office determined Westwood’s evidence was incorrect, merely that it did not undermine Pruyn’s “overall credibility.”

“All too often, whistleblowers who have the courage and integrity to speak out about their experiences come under attack by the company they speak out against,” Sessions said.

Westwood is under scrutiny from numerous local, state and federal authorities. In 2009 its parent company, Alta Colleges, agreed to pay a $7 million fine to settle Justice Department allegations brought under the False Claims Act.