10.29.19

Senator Patty Murray Questions Judicial Nominee Steven Menashi on Record of Helping DeVos Undermine Protections for Student Borrowers

Letter requests information regarding Menashi’s role in the case against the Department of Education that has led to a contempt citation against Secretary DeVos for failure to comply with a court order to stop collecting payments from defrauded student borrowers

 

Menashi served as Acting General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel for Postsecondary Education at the Department of Education from spring of 2017 to fall of 2018

 

Washington D.C.— U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, questioned judicial nominee Steven Menashi, former Acting General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel for Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education, on his record of working with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to undermine protections for cheated and defrauded students. In a letter sent to Mr. Menashi, Senator Murray requested information on Menashi’s involvement in the Department’s failure to respond appropriately to its legal obligation to protect borrowers from student loan companies and debt collectors.

 

“I am concerned in light of your troubling record of working with Secretary DeVos to undermine protections for students who were cheated and defrauded by for-profit colleges. These students have been left with large amounts of debt and worthless credits,” Senator Murray wrote.

 

In May 2018, a federal district judge ordered the Department of Education to cease efforts to collect payments from students defrauded by the defunct for-profit college chain, Corinthian Colleges. Senator Murray sent the letter after a court held Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt for violating a court order, which was issued during Menashi’s tenure at the Department.

 

“Your tenure as General and Deputy General Counsel during the time the Manriquez v. DeVos case was brought against the Department, when the court blocked the Department’s scheme to provide only ‘partial relief’ to cheated and defrauded borrowers, when the court issued the preliminary injunction, and as the Department communicated with the loan servicers about enforcement of the injunctions in the case, raises significant questions,” Senator Murray added.

 

In order to clarify Menashi’s role in these troubling events, Senator Murray requested response to the following questions no later than November 12, 2019:

 

1.      Please provide your exact dates of service at the Department, as well as your titles and a description of your responsibilities throughout that period.

 

2.      Upon your departure from the Department, you served as Special Assistant and Associate Counsel to the President.  Did you continue to work on issues involving the Department during your tenure in the White House?  If so, did that include the issues raised in the Manriquez v. DeVos case?

 

3.      What was the nature of the Department’s Office of General Counsel’s involvement in the Manriquez v. DeVos case, as it relates to both collections and partial relief?  

 

4.      What was the nature of your specific involvement in the Manriquez v. DeVos case? 

 

5.      What was the nature of Office of General Counsel’s role in developing or overseeing communications with federal loan servicers on implementing the preliminary injunction to cease collections on Corinthian borrowers?  What was the nature of your specific involvement in developing or overseeing communications with federal loan servicers on implementing the preliminary injunction to cease collections Corinthian borrowers? 

 

6.      How and when did you discover the Department had improperly billed Corinthian borrowers in violation of the preliminary injunction? 

 

The Senate is considering the nomination of Steven Menashi to serve as a United States Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

 

Full text of the letter is below and a PDF is HERE.