Influence & Access at the Department of Education

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is frequently absent from work - and her calendars and staffing choices raise serious questions about the level of influence that the charter school and for-profit college industries may have at the department.

In her first months in office, Secretary DeVos took two actions that could benefit the for-profit college industry. She extended the deadline for data determinations under the gainful employment rule, which requires institutions to provide data on the debt of their graduates relative to the graduates’ earnings, and she revoked guidance barring debt collectors from charging high fees for past-due loans.

American Oversight sued the Department of Education and obtained copies of the official calendars of Secretary DeVos and a number of other senior political appointees at the department. Our analysis found that Secretary DeVos is frequently absent from work – often taking long weekends for personal travel to locations where she has homes – and that her work schedule is heavily focused on charter schools, religious schools, and other non-public educational institutions. Read more about what we found in Secretary DeVos’ calendars here.

American Oversight is also continuing to investigate DeVos’ selection of two former for-profit institution advocates, Taylor Hansen and Robert Eitel, for senior positions at the Department. Mr. Hansen has since resigned, but his father heads Strada Education Network, an entity that collects education debt and whose lawsuit against the department was arguably rendered moot by the revocation of the debt collection guidance.

Given these high-profile conflict of interest questions, American Oversight is seeking information to determine the scope of access Secretary DeVos and the Department may have provided to industry groups and others with a stake in educational regulation.

Related Documents

November 9, 2017

American Oversight v. Department of Education – Calendars (Rescheduled)

Department of Education
Litigation
October 31, 2017

Minute Order: American Oversight v. Department of Education – Calendars

Department of Education
FOIA Request
October 27, 2017

Motion for Extension and Opposition to Motion American Oversight v Department of Education

Department of Education
Litigation
October 27, 2017

Status Report American Oversight v Department of Education Calendars

Department of Education
Litigation
October 27, 2017

Department of Education Political Appointee Calendars (2/3)

Department of Education
Agency Record
October 27, 2017

Department of Education Political Appointee Calendars (3/3)

Department of Education
Agency Record
October 27, 2017

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ Calendars

Department of Education
Agency Record
October 23, 2017

Education No Records Response Gainful Employment

Department of Education
Agency Reply
October 20, 2017

FOIA Seeking New DeVos Calendars from ED

Department of Education
FOIA Request
October 6, 2017

Minute Order: American Oversight v. Department of Education – Devos Calendars

Department of Education
Litigation
September 22, 2017

Minute Order: American Oversight v. Department of Education

Department of Education
Litigation
September 20, 2017

FOIA Seeking Gainful Employment Communications

Department of Education
FOIA Request
September 20, 2017

FOIA to Education Regarding Gainful Employment

Department of Education
FOIA Request
September 15, 2017

Opposition to Motion for Extension: American Oversight vs. Department of Education

Department of Education
Litigation
September 15, 2017

Motion for Extension: Department of Education

Department of Education
Litigation
August 23, 2017

No Responsive Records from Department of Education Regarding DeVos Reimbursements for Hotel Stays

Department of Education
Agency Reply
August 22, 2017

Department of Education Political Appointee Calendars (1/3)

Department of Education
Agency Record
July 24, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Dept DeVos Reimbursements for Hotel Stays

Department of Education
FOIA Request
June 21, 2017

FOIA Request to Department of Education Communications Between Senior Officials and Falwell, Jr.

Department of Education
FOIA Request
June 21, 2017

FOIA Request to Department of Education Communications Between Senior Officials and Lamar Alexander

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 11, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Department Information about Taylor Hansen or Robert Eitel

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 11, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Department Calendars and call logs for Secretary DeVos

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 10, 2017

FOIA Request to Department of Education Policies or Guidance Regarding the Provision of Information

Department of Education
FOIA Request