Politics

For-Profit University Cashed In On Access To Clinton Insiders While Paying Bill Millions

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Peter Hasson Senior Reporter

A for-profit university that paid former president Bill Clinton more than $17.6 million for his role as its “honorary chancellor” utilized access to Clinton insiders at the Clinton Global Initiative to advance its financial interests, leaked documents reveal.

Laureate International Universities — also referred to as Laureate Education — has faced scrutiny over its financial relationship with the Clintons, who have faced a string of pay-to-play allegations related to the Clinton Foundation and Hillary’s time as secretary of state.

The organization has the financial backing of major Clinton donor George Soros and has donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. It’s chief executive, Douglas Becker, is a donor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Additionally, the organization’s top staffers have included several former Clinton staffers.

Over the course of 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly promised to crack down on for-profit universities if elected president.

But while her husband raked in millions as “honorary chancellor,” Laureate saddled students with high levels of debt that they would struggle to pay off after graduating with a questionable diploma. (RELATED: Bill Clinton Has Raked In More Than $23 Million From For-Profit Schools) 

Leaked emails reveal the Clinton campaign expected reporters to press the Clintons over Bill’s massive income from his role at Laureate.

Bill and Hillary Clinton have been accused of engaging in pay-to-play deals across several fronts relating to Hillary’s role at the State Department and donors to the Clinton Foundation, including Laureate. (RELATED: Clinton Ties Could Doom For-Profit Laureate University’s IPO)

The book “Clinton Cash” claimed Hillary steered a $1.9 million State Department grant to a non-profit affiliated with the for-profit Laureate.

Now, newly leaked emails received by Clinton campaign manager John Podesta help reveal another way in which the university was able to cash in on its Clinton ties: access to Clinton insiders at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

CGI is an annual meeting of “global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges,” according to the Clinton Foundation website. The event is attended by heads of state, CEO’s and political donors, among others.

One way in which Laureate benefited from its CGI ties was the ability to secure “interviews” with Clinton insiders attending the annual conference.

Shortly before the 2012 meeting, CGI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ed Hughes reached out to Podesta on behalf of Laureate, which Hughes noted is “a CGI sponsor.”

Laureate, Hughes explained, would be “conducting interviews with distinguished attendees” and wanted to conduct a ten minute interview with Podesta. Laureate would go on to show the interviews to “740,000 students around the world.”

It’s unclear whether or not Podesta took part in the interview, but Laureate has been able to secure interviews with Chelsea Clinton and members of the family’s inner circle.

Laureate has repeated its CGI interview arrangement every since 2012.

The interviews, some of which can be viewed online, are largely mundane, oftentimes showing disinterested interviewees delivering tired talking points — hardly containing exclusive insider information.

But that hasn’t stopped the for-profit university from using the interviews as a way to claim legitimacy for its global enterprise.

Laureate’s “Global Impact Report” hypes the “unparalleled access to global leaders and innovative thinking” afforded to its students through the university’s partnership with CGI.

Laureate’s website brags about how the organization broadcasts the annual CGI meetings “to tens of thousands of students and faculty in its network.”

A section of Laureate’s website titled “Global Impact” claims the for-profit organization “has partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on a number of initiatives since 2008. CGI convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.”

The value of the interviews appears to be more in the Clinton name — and the names of the interviewees — than in the actual content of the videos themselves.

Laureate’s use of access to Clinton insiders bears semblance to the false promises allegedly made to potential Trump University students, who were lead to believe they would learn business success from Trump himself. (One key difference between the two institutions, however: Laureate’s students at least received degrees of some sort, albeit of questionable value.)

The Washington Post reported in September that Laureate has “portrayed its association with the Clintons as a symbol of its legitimacy rather than the result of a business deal.”

The Post notes that, before introducing Bill Clinton at a Laureate event, Becker read a statement from the Malaysian prime minister that said, “there must be something very special about Laureate that has inspired President Clinton to devote his energy to such an endeavor.”

Similarly, the Clinton Global Initiative allowed Laureate access to world leaders while carrying the Clinton stamp of approval.

Beyond the much-hyped CGI interviews, access to world leaders could in itself be advantageous for Laureate, which does most of its business internationally.

Just three of Laureate’s more than 100 institutions are located in the U.S. The rest are scattered around the globe across six continents.

Some countries where Laureate operates have clear ties to the Clinton Foundation. (RELATED: Here’s A (Dirty) Laundry List Of The Clinton Foundation’s Most Questionable Foreign Donations)

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for example, is one of the biggest donors to the Clinton Foundation, having given between $10 million and $25 million to the organization. Laureate has ten institutions in the country — twice as many as it does in all of North America.

Laureate also does business in Morocco, a country that may have benefited from its ties to the Clinton Foundation.

As previously reported by The Daily Caller, Hillary Clinton did two significant favors for Morocco, while accepting up to $28 million from Moroccan King Mohammed VI. (RELATED: Hillary’s Two Official Favors To Morocco Resulted In $28 Million For Clinton Foundation)

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson