What do these four things have in common: money, status, power and politics?
“Gamal Abdelaziz, a former hotel and casino executive is accused of paying $300,000 to get his daughter admitted to the University of Southern California as a basketball player based on false qualifications.
“John Wilson, a private equity executive, is accused of paying $220,000 to get his son admitted to U.S.C. as a water polo player, then conspiring to pay another $1.5 million to secure admission for his daughters to Harvard and Stanford,” the New York Times reported (Oct. 8, 2021).
The inside man in all of this was William “Rick” Singera. His special talent was using a “side door” which allowed his wealthy clients’ children access to prestigious universities in exchange for a very generous donation to a school’s athletic department. After arrangements were made, the children would be categorized as “recruited athletes,” even as most lacked the necessary skills.
Defense “lawyers said they would introduce evidence showing that the athletic department solicited donations for years from applicants’ parents in exchange for preferential treatment in admissions — and that their clients believed they were participating in an accepted, if unsavory, practice,” the Times writes.
Universities survive on donations. However, the money involved in “side door” admissions has become obscene, and the trumped-up rationales wealthy parents and defense attorneys make for such actions are appalling.
After his son was admitted to USC’s water polo team, Mr. Wilson wrote in an email to Mr. Singer, “‘Thanks again for making this happen! Pls give me the invoice. What are the options for the payment?’ He asked if Mr. Singer could make it ‘for consulting or whatever,’ so that ‘I can pay it from the corporate account?’”
Wilson’s not only cheating the university entry system, it appears he’s also cheating the corporation he heads. Did board members know or approve this?
“Mr. Kelly, Mr. Abdelaziz’s lawyer, said: ‘It’s not illegal to do fund-raising, not illegal to give money to a school in the hopes that your kid will get in. So that’s his mindset,’” the Times writes.
In the hopes. . . ? There was nothing hopeful about the scheme.
“Prosecutors said Mr. Singer’s services appealed to parents who wanted a guarantee of admission; he typically told them they did not have to pay in full until their children were admitted.”
However, admissions and political scams are frighteningly similar.
Wealthy parents took advantage of a loophole whereby their children could be “recruited” for a sports team to gain admission to a university.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell took advantage of a loophole in impeachment proceedings, despite Donald Trump’s guilt for the January 6 insurrection, by rationalizing that a former president cannot be impeached.
That’s his mindset.
Most republican senators and representatives stand four-square behind Trump’s “Big Lie,” that the 2020 election was stolen in exchange for the preferential treatment he personally offers them.
After the January 6 insurrection, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said Donald Trump “belittled and harassed elected officials across the country to get his way. He encouraged his own, loyal vice president, Mike Pence, to take extraordinary and unconstitutional actions during the Electoral College count. . . . Time is going to take care of that some way or another,” Grassley said, “But remember, in order to be a leader you got to have followers. So we’re gonna find out.”
We found out last Saturday.
“If I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person that’s got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart,” Grassley said.
That’s the mindset of a US Senator charged with responsibility to the entire country, not constitutes that align with the blatant dishonesty of a former president. This is how power, money and dishonesty will affect the future of American democracy.
Similarities between the wealthy parents seeking an illegally paid education and republicans’ lack of integrity could not be clearer. Both are scamming the public in broad daylight. Both employ rationalizations that only the powerful could get away with.
While the public is outraged about the admissions scandal, much of that same outrage against hypocrisy and dishonesty from leaders is shamefully missing.
However, Miles Taylor, former head of Homeland Security, and Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, offer a glimmer of hope.
“The only near-term way to battle pro-Trump extremists is for all of us to team up on key races and overarching political goals with our longtime political opponents: the Democratic Party.
“This year we joined more than 150 conservatives — including former governors, senators, congressmen, cabinet secretaries, and party leaders — in calling for the Republican Party to divorce itself from Trumpism or else lose our support, perhaps by forming a new political party.”
Let’s hope this will change republicans’ mindset.