BETSY DEVOS/CONFLICT OF INTERESTS/EDUCATION: “A company that once had financial ties to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was one of two firms selected Thursday [1-11-18] by the U.S. Department of Education to help the agency collect overdue student loans. The deal could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The decision to award contracts to Windham Professionals and Performant Financial Corp. — the company in which DeVos invested before becoming secretary — arrives a month after a federal judge ordered the department to complete its selection of a loan collector to put an end to a messy court battle. Windham and Performant beat out nearly 40 other bidders for contracts valued at up to $400 million, but their win may be short-lived if the losing companies fight the decision…
The newly awarded contracts are supposed to resolve the litigation, but the selection of at least one of the companies could raise eyebrows.
Performant is linked to LMF WF Portfolio, a limited liability corporation that once counted DeVos as an investor. LMF is one of several firms involved in providing Performant with a $147 million loan in 2012, according to regulatory filings. DeVos was required to divest from LMF within 90 days of her confirmation as secretary, but at the time of her appointment, Democrats said they were uneasy about the influence she could still wield over companies with which she has had a relationship.
Education Department spokesman Nathan Bailey said Thursday that DeVos had ‘no knowledge, let alone involvement’ in the new debt collection contract. Richard Zubek, who heads investor relations at Performant, said in an email that the company ‘has never had any direct or indirect contact with Secretary DeVos or anyone related to Mrs. DeVos.’ “

-Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, “Grade Point Education Dept. awards debt collection contract to company with ties to DeVos,” The Washington Post online, Jan. 11, 2018 09:16pm