WASHINGTON -- When the going gets tough in this city, the tough get lobbying, and, as could be expected, for-profit colleges are no exception to this rule.
As federal scrutiny of the sector has spread from the U.S. Department of Education's in-the-weeds negotiated rule-making process last winter to the high-profile series of hearings by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that began in June, for-profit higher education has responded by spending increasingly more on lobbying the Education Department, the White House and members of Congress. From the first quarter of the year (January-March) to the third (July-September), based on Inside Higher Ed's analysis of public disclosure data, for-profits' federal lobbying spending nearly doubled, from slightly more than $1.3 million to just short of $2.6 million.
In the first quarter of the year, for-profit colleges and their associations spent at least $1,335,000 on federal lobbying. By the second quarter, the same set of colleges and groups, plus a few others that did not lobby during the first quarter, spent $1,780,000. And in the third quarter -- for which the reporting deadline was Wednesday, though some firms appear to be late in their disclosures -- the same set of organizations and some newcomers spent a total of $2,590,000.
By contrast, the Institute for College Access and Success, a group that supports the Education Department's shift toward greater regulation of for-profit colleges, spent $10,000 on lobbying during the first quarter and $20,000 in each of the second and third quarters. The American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees spent a combined $100,000 during the first quarter, when the American Graduation Initiative was being debated by Congress, and $45,000 in the third quarter.
The for-profit sector's main trade group, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which until late September was called the Career College Association, has thus far been the industry's biggest spender on federal lobbyists. The group spent $350,000 on in-house lobbying during the third quarter, double what it spent in the second quarter and more than three times what it spent in the first quarter.
For the third quarter, APSCU paid $100,000 for federal lobbying to the Podesta Group, the same firm that played a key role in persuading several minority groups to speak out in opposition to the gainful employment regulations. By contrast, during the first quarter, APSCU spent $50,000 with Podesta. As the year has progressed, the association has spent more each quarter -- from $160,000 during the first three months of the year to $450,000 in July, August and September.
Apollo Group, parent of the University of Phoenix, is the sector's largest company, but probably not its biggest spender on federal lobbying during the third quarter. Three firms reported receiving a total of $130,000 from Apollo during the quarter (a fourth firm, Bond & Company, had not yet reported its figures by late in the day Thursday), but a few for-profit higher education companies spent more.
- Kaplan Inc. and its parent, the Washington Post Co., together spent $350,000 on federal lobbying during the third quarter. No lobbying on behalf of the Post Co. was reported this year before the third quarter, when three firms reported a total of $50,000 in income. In the first quarter, Kaplan spent $75,000 on lobbying performed by its in-house team and by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; In the second quarter, it spent $270,000.
- Career Education Corp., which runs American InterContinental University, Colorado Technical University and Sanford-Brown, spent $170,000 on federal lobbying services from Podesta Group. In the second quarter, Career Education also spent $80,000 with Moffett Group, which has not yet filed a disclosure for the third quarter. The lobbying wing of D.C. law firm Dow Lohnes reported being paid $60,000 during each of the last two quarters to lobby on behalf of American InterContinental.
- Corinthian Colleges has kept its lobbying spending pretty constant so far this year, with the company itself and firms Akerman Senterfitt and Gephardt Group Government Affairs together reporting $300,000 during the first and third quarters, and $310,000 during the second.
Another big spender during the third quarter was Education Management Corporation -- parent of Argosy University and the Art Institutes. Five firms reported a total of $220,000 in third-quarter lobbying income from the company. Education Management is also one of a handful of publicly traded companies, along with ITT Educational Services, that have joined the Coalition for Educational Success, an advocacy group that emerged during the third quarter and counts as its spokesman Lanny J. Davis, who served as White House counsel to Bill Clinton. Four lobbying firms -- including Davis's -- reported earning a total of $120,000 for federal lobbying during the third quarter.
A few companies that had not engaged in federal lobbying for years -- if ever -- have begun paying firms to lobby on their behalf. In the second quarter, Concorde Career Colleges hired Heather Podesta + Partners, the firm run by the wife of Podesta Group founder Tony Podesta, and spent $30,000 during the second quarter and $50,000 in the third. Spending its first substantial sum on federal lobbying since 2007, Grand Canyon University paid $10,000 to Upstream Consulting in the third quarter. Also initiating new lobbying efforts: Universal Technical Institute ($50,000 to Dutko Worldwide in the third quarter) and Westwood College ($30,000 to Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck).
|Institution/organization||Lobbying firm||Q1 2010||Q2 2010||Q3 2010||Total|
|Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology||Drinker, Biddle & Reath||20,000||20,000||40,000|
|American Career College||Prime Policy Group||30,000||30,000|
|American InterContinental University||Dow Lohnes Government Strategies||60,000||60,000||120,000|
|American Public University System||Clark & Weinstock||30,000||30,000||60,000|
|Apollo Group||SNR Denton LLP||30,000||30,000|
|Apollo Group||Van Scoyoc Associates||40,000||50,000||40,000||130,000|
|Apollo Group||Wheat Government Relations||110,000||40,000||60,000||210,000|
|Apollo Group||Bond & Company||60,000||60,000||120,000|
|Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities||Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities||110,000||170,000||350,000||630,000|
|Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities||Podesta Group||50,000||80,000||100,000||230,000|
|Bridgepoint Education||Dickstein Shapiro||90,000||70,000||100,000||260,000|
|Capella||Drinker, Biddle & Reath||30,000||30,000||40,000||100,000|
|Career Education Corporation||Podesta Group||90,000||120,000||170,000||380,000|
|Career Education Corporation||Moffett Group||80,000||80,000|
|Coalition for Educational Success||Lanny J. Davis & Associates LLC||40,000||40,000|
|Coalition for Educational Success||Singer Consulting LLC||20,000||20,000|
|Coalition for Educational Success||The Raben Group||20,000||20,000|
|Coalition for Educational Success||Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates||40,000||40,000|
|Concorde Career Colleges||Heather Podesta + Partners||30,000||50,000||80,000|
|Corinthian Colleges||Corinthian Colleges||190,000||190,000||190,000||570,000|
|Corinthian Colleges||Akerman Senterfitt||20,000||30,000||20,000||70,000|
|Corinthian Colleges||Gephardt Group Government Affairs||90,000||90,000||90,000||270,000|
|DeVry||Dow Lohnes Government Strategies||60,000||60,000||50,000||170,000|
|DeVry||Heather Podesta + Partners||20,000||30,000||110,000||160,000|
|Education Management Corporation||Barnes & Thornburg||20,000||60,000||80,000|
|Education Management Corporation||Covington & Burling||20,000||20,000|
|Education Management Corporation||GrayLoeffler||60,000||60,000||60,000||180,000|
|Education Management Corporation||Heather Podesta + Partners||20,000||30,000||30,000||80,000|
|Education Management Corporation||Prime Policy Group||50,000||50,000|
|Education Management Corporation||Jolly/Rissler, Inc.||80,000||80,000|
|Grand Canyon University||Upstream Consulting||10,000||10,000|
|ITT Educational Services||Dickstein Shapiro||20,000||20,000||70,000||110,000|
|ITT Educational Services||Ice Miller Stragies||10,000||10,000|
|Kaplan Inc.||Kaplan Inc||40,000||180,000||200,000||420,000|
|Kaplan Inc.||Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld||35,000||90,000||100,000||225,000|
|Kaplan/Washington Post Company||Elmendorf Strategies LLC||30,000||30,000|
|Kaplan/Washington Post Company||Tonio Burgos & Associates||10,000||10,000|
|Kaplan/Washington Post Company||The Raben Group||10,000||10,000|
|Keiser Collegiate System||The Cormac Group||20,000||20,000||30,000||70,000|
|Keiser University||Keiser University||50,000||40,000||70,000||160,000|
|Laureate Education||Van Scoyoc Associates||10,000||20,000||10,000||40,000|
|Laureate Education||Drinker, Biddle & Reath||40,000||60,000||80,000||180,000|
|Universal Technical Institute||Dutko Worldwide||50,000||50,000|
|Westwood College||Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck||30,000||30,000|