Though earlier this month U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim threatened Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with jail for her department’s utter contempt of a judicial order calling on it to stop collecting student debt from failed, fraudulent, Santa Ana-based Corinthian College, the judge has so far only fined DeVos $100,000.
“A federal judge on Thursday held Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt of court and imposed a $100,000 fine for violating an order to stop collecting on the student loans owed by students of a defunct for-profit college,” Politico reported on Oct. 24. “The exceedingly rare judicial rebuke of a Cabinet secretary came after the Trump administration was forced to admit to the court earlier this year that it erroneously collected on the loans of some 16,000 borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges despite being ordered to stop doing so.”
HAHAHAHA–“erroneously.” Those guys at Politico are too much. Look, I know Department of Education officials said all this was just a mistake. “We’re disappointed in the court’s ruling,” Education officials tweeted on Oct. 24. “We acknowledged that servicers made unacceptable mistakes.”
None. Of. This. Was. Not. A. Mistake.
The Department of Education violated a court order 16,000 times. That’s not a mistake–that’s sheer contempt. I don’t know who needs to read this, but the Trump Administration is mostly run by old, rich white people who really don’t care if the rest of us live or die. People like Betsy DeVos, beautifully described as the “pickled practitioner of white privilege” by Michael Harriot in The Root, exemplify this utter contempt for the people that supposedly lie at the heart of our representative government.
You know what, in that Root post Harriot described DeVos’s role in all this far better than I can:
Before DeVos took the job that she was not qualified for, the Obama administration had already passed the Borrower Defense to Repayment rule, which offers student loan debt forgiveness for students who were defrauded by their educational institution. The suit alleged that the Department of Education illegally and intentionally delayed the rule’s implementation.
DeVos, the daughter of a billionaire who somehow married a billionaire, is the nation’s highest education official. She does not hold a degree in education, has never formally studied the subject, has never attended a public school or college and has never worked at an educational institution.
Yes, it’s good a judge gave DeVos even a tiny slap. She and the department she runs completely disregarded a judicial order because they felt like it. But don’t get the idea that this amounts to accountability. The Trump Administration doesn’t respect judicial orders any more than it respects immigrants, criticism, Democrats or any of the other myriad enemies it battles every day.
Oh, and the fine will, of course, come out of the Department of Education budget, which means–woo hoo!–we taxpayers get to pay it.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.