On April 19, 2012 Reuters news service reported the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating certain Apollo Company share sales by company insiders. Apollo is the parent company of the for-profit college, University of Phoenix . The insiders being investigated were not named.
As reported at Dailycensored.com, John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix , cashed in $59 million in stock and his son Peter cashed in $12 million in stock following the release of weakened department of education regulations affecting for-profit colleges in June 2011. This was on top of $57 million cashed in by John Sperling in April of that year for a family total of $127 million in 2011. http://dailycensored.com/2011/12/16/university-of-phoenix-founding-family-sells-127-million-in-stock-while-phoenix-ranks-lowest-in-graduation-rate-for-dc-metro-area-2/
The Washington Post Company is another exemplar of the for- profit college casino culture. The Post Company paid out a quarter billion dollars in stock option payouts to Kaplan Inc. executives between 2003 and 2008.
Based upon the casino culture at many for-profit college companies, the SEC would be wise to subject stock trades at all for-profit colleges to heightened scrutiny. The SEC should specifically investigate several unusual multimillion dollar stock sales by Donald Graham CEO of the Washington Post Company, which owns the for-profit college Kaplan University .
Washington Post Company Stock Sales
As reported at Dailycensored.com and Accuracy in Media, in April and May 2008 the Graham family sold $29 million in stock at an average price of about $675/share, within days the stock price dropped to $585/share. $20 million of these stock sales were on behalf of Donald Graham’s now ex wife. http://www.aim.org/special-report/scandal-at-the-washington-post-fraud-lobbying-insider-trading/
In August and September 2008 the Graham family sold $14 million in stock at an average price of about $600/share, within days the stock price dropped to $400/share. These stocks were sold days before the infamous 2008 market meltdown. http://www.insider-monitor.com/trading/cik104889.html
In June and July 2011, the Graham family sold $12 million in stock at an average price of about $420/share. Within 3 weeks the stock began a 100 point price decline following the release of quarterly results which revealed a 50% decline in year over year income. These stock sales began in June - two business days after regulations affecting for-profit colleges were released, which Mr. Graham personally spent millions on lobbying to weaken. Publisher Katharine Weymouth (Donald Graham’s niece) also sold $45,000 in stock in June 2011http://www.insider-monitor.com/trading/cik104889.html
At the Sept 9, 2011 Shareholder’s day meeting, it was reportedthat Donald Graham actually stated:
“I have not sold a share of Washington Post Company stock in over 30 years nor has any trust for my benefit. I am also a trustee of several trusts for the benefit of other members of my family. From time to time, these family members who also started out life heavily concentrated in Post stock have asked their trustees to sell stock when, for example, they want to buy a house.”
Graham’s statements are partially true, but as usual, they conceal more than they reveal. While Graham did not sell any stocks for his personal benefit, $20 million of the stock sales in April 2008 executed on behalf of his now-ex-wife. http://www.insider-monitor.com/trading/cik104889.html
Added to all of this murky dealing is the fact that the Graham family (most notably the sibling trust) sold over $70 million in stock between April 2008 and July 2011.The sibling trust has now, in fact, liquidated about 90% of its non derivative stock holdings over this time period. http://www.insider-monitor.com/trading/cik104889.html
The stock sales in question may not be the result of unlawful insider trading, but if they were related to home purchases as Mr. Graham claims, then this should be relatively easy for the SEC to investigate and either falsify or verify. There should be deeds of purchase from the alleged home sales, shouldn’t there?
Like sub-prime mortgages and credit default swaps, the for-profit college industry is an investment vehicle which mainly benefits Wall Street and the portfolio of private equity investors, such as Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband Richard Blum, a major stockholder in ITT schools.
Also like the sub-prime mortgage industry, the for-profit college industry preys on the poor and minorities, leaving behind a wake of financial ruin and broken, deracinated lives - except for the fact that the for-profit college debt is more destructive. Sub-prime mortgage debt is dischargeable through bankruptcy and foreclosure, while sub-prime, for-profit student loan debt is non- dischargeable and follows students throughout their lives. The debt is a ball and chain, tethering borrowers to the carpet loom of debt for life.
The similarities between the sub-prime mortgage industry and the for-profit college industry are not accidental. According to the website forprofitedu.com
“The for profit college industry has replaced the mortgage industry as the largest lead generation / marketing industry on the Internet, with nearly half of previous mortgage lead vendors now working in the for profit college lead generation / marketing industry” http://www.forprofitedu.com/marketing-firms/
The fact that dozens of former and current politicians and government officials are falling all over themselves to facilitate and profit from the for-profit college scam AFTER the mortgage debacle, shows the level of greed, corruption and moral depravity which permeates Washington and our selected leaders.
For-profit college money has thoroughly corrupted the government in what can only be called a “kickback scheme”. For example, Obama’s deputy secretary of education, Anthony Miller
Insider stock trading, when done with non public information, is always reprehensible and illegal. In face of the cascading mortgage debacle on Wall Street, witnessing for-profit colleges defraud the government out of student loan money through the exploitation of poor and minority students can arguably be said to be far more onerous.