“I’m not sending anyone to jail yet but it’s good to know I have that ability,” said U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim at a court hearing on Monday. Generally, this is one of the last things you want to hear when you have to appear before a judge – but it’s exactly what happened to Betsy Devos yesterday when she took the stand.
The Education Department was sued over collecting student loan payments from former students of the now-bankrupt Corinthian College. Kim had ruled that, as a for-profit college, Corinthian College had “engaged in unfair, deceptive, or illegal practices” and required that the Department of Education refund the college’s former students.
When Devos took over, she decided to gut the reimbursement program and ignore Kim’s ruling – not only continuing to collect loan debts, but also garnishing wages and taking tax refunds away from 1,808 borrowers. The department has only refunded 10 former students what they were owed.
Devos’ tenure has been a clown show – from her absurd defense of guns in schools to protect against grizzly attacks to her despicable attempt to defund the Special Olympics, but so far she hasn’t done anything to run afoul of the law. Time will tell if she does end up in prison, but the lawsuit is now moving full speed ahead at Kim’s request, coinciding with another lawsuit against the department, filed by the state of California.
This is far from the first time that Devos has been under fire, with a blatant record of corruption that we’ve come to expect from the Trump administration, which has a whole history of defying court orders and losing lawsuits without Devos. The whole thing is another scandal they could really do without as Donald Trump is facing the very real threat of impeachment, and Devos could easily be the next person Trump assumes he can safely fire as his administration spins out of control.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making