Former Education Department Official Investigated for Possible Ethics Violations
Two Republican senators are asking the Obama administration for the former Education Department’s deputy undersecretary’s phone records and emails, owing to an ongoing investigation into possible ethics violations.
Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that investigators were looking into whether Robert Shireman shared sensitive information regarding updated regulations for for-profit colleges.
According to court documents, Shireman might have discussed this information with an advocacy group he founded. This would violate executive-branch ethics laws.
“We were, and continue to be, concerned over Department employees engaged in improper release of information that might have resulted in the financial gain of certain individual investors,” said Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and Richard Burr of North Carolina, in a letter to the education secretary. They are asking for all of Shireman’s memos, meeting dates, emails, and phone records from 2009 to 2010.
A spokesman for the Education Department commented on the case earlier in the year, saying that, “We feel very confident with the integrity of our process and how transparent and fair we were and will continue be.” Both Shireman and the Education Department have declined to comment on the senators’ requests for more information.
The Education Department has also said that they met with many representatives during that time period not to give out private information, but in order to gain feedback and information as to what policies would be best for both students and taxpayers.
Shireman left the agency in 2010, and now works for a nonprofit advocacy group for higher-education policies known as California Competes.
“This kind of behavior is not something that I would ever condone,” says Walter Ribeiro, Director of RHMS. “Giving away sensitive information to help further yourself is a pure act of greed.”