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Fact-Checking Trump Assertion on Clinton For-Profit Ties

June 23, 2016

As Donald Trump and his supporters have sought to change the subject from Trump University, they have seized on reporting from Inside Higher Ed and other news outlets about Bill Clinton's ties to Laureate Education, which paid him $16.5 million in the honorary role of chancellor of Laureate International Universities from 2010 to 2014.

But the Republican presidential candidate's backers have also suggested -- incorrectly, it seems -- that Hillary Clinton directed tens of millions of dollars in State Department funds to the for-profit higher education company. "As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton laundered money to Bill Clinton through Laureate Education, while Bill Clinton was an honorary chairman of the group. Clinton's State Department provided $55.2 million in grants to Laureate Education from 2010 to 2012," Trump's campaign said in a statement Tuesday. "This is yet another example of how Clinton treated the State Department as her own personal hedge fund, and sold out the American public to fund her lavish lifestyle. Laureate made money by racking up student debt on vulnerable students."

The statement is factually wrong on several accounts. The State Department has not made any grants to Laureate. The statement appears to be conflating grants that the State Department made to the International Youth Foundation, a nonprofit group focused on preparing young people worldwide for work, whose president and CEO, William S. Reese, tried to correct the record in a recent letter. Reese noted that Douglas S. Becker, Laureate's founder and CEO, is the chairman of the foundation's volunteer Board of Directors -- he did not "run it," as some news reports suggested. Reese also pointed out that the organization received more grants during the administration of President George H. W. Bush than it did while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

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Doug Lederman

Doug Lederman is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. He helps lead the news organization's editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Doug speaks widely about higher education, including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings and on campuses around the country, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Doug was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003. Before that, Doug had worked at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles, first as an athletics reporter and editor. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one in 2009 for a series of Inside Higher Ed articles he co-wrote on college rankings. He began his career as a news clerk at The New York Times. He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated in 1984 from Princeton University. Doug lives with his wife, Kate Scharff, in Bethesda, Md.

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