Former President Bill Clinton and presumed 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton have deep ties to Laureate Education, an international conglomerate of aggressive, telemarketing-happy, for-profit colleges that is ensnared in controversy all over the globe.
The huge Baltimore-base company is America’s largest for-profit education corporation by enrollment — boasting 800,000 students worldwide. Many of its schools are located in Latin America.
Laureate scored a marketing coup when it hired Bill Clinton in 2010 as its global pitchman, reports Bloomberg. In his position as honorary chancellor, he has gone around the world over a dozen times — to places such as Peru, Malaysia and Spain — to hawk the company.
For his globetrotting efforts, the for-profit education juggernaut pays Clinton a secret sum of money. Neither Clinton nor Laureate will disclose exactly how much it is.
The company has also enthroned a small armada of old Clinton administration hands in significant board and executive positions. Among them are Henry Cisneros, former secretary of housing and urban development, and former education secretary Richard Riley.
The former president gets other perks as well. In 2012, for example, Laureate Education was one of a handful of sponsors of the Clinton Global Initiative’s CGI University.
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has also been squarely in cahoots with Laureate. As Secretary of State, she helped legitimize Laureate in the eyes of the world by making the for-profit education behemoth part of her State Department Global Partnership.
The State Department Global Partnership exists to “strengthen and deepen U.S. diplomacy and development around the world.”
Additionally, in January 2013, during Clinton’s last month at the State Department, the World Bank’s investment unit invested $150 million in Laureate.
Douglas L. Becker, Laureate’s CEO, has donated generously to Hillary Clinton’s various political campaigns. He gave $4,600 in 2007 and $2,000 in 2005, according to Bloomberg.
Laureate came into existence in 2004 as the successor to Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. The basic business model is to buy struggling private colleges. The company then aggressively sacks professors and increases the number of paying students by massively lowering admission standards. Another core company practice is obscene expenditures — in the hundreds of millions — on advertising and (where it’s legal) hardcore telemarketing.
There are 75 schools across 30 countries. Since 2007, the for-profit education giant’s annual revenue has more than tripled. It’s now $4 billion.
Laureate’s investors include Soros Fund Management LLC, chaired by billionaire progressive leftist George Soros; SAC Capital Advisors LP, a hedge fund that recently settled insider trading allegations to the tune of $1.2 billion; and KKR, a private-equity firm based in New York.
Becker, the CEO, never bothered to go to college himself. Still, the 47-year-old investment wunderkind assured Bloomberg that he has a passion for education.