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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
Total   $1,335,000 $1,780,000 $2,590,000 $5,750,000

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