Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is trying to distance himself from a conservative, for-profit university known for bizarre teachings about gender as he prepares for a tough re-election campaign. Toomey served on the board of the online school Yorktown University from 2007 to 2009, invested thousands of dollars in it and appeared in its promotional materials. Yorktown, founded in 2001 as a conservative counterweight to mainstream schools, offered courses that railed against political correctness, feminism, egalitarianism and multiculturalism.
The "Trump University" scandal hasn't done Republicans any favors. Donald Trump's controversial enterprise, which is already the target of a major lawsuit, has been accused of being a con job, ripping off students who trusted the developer's name.
But as it turns out, this is part of a broader area of concern for the GOP -- because several other Republicans are caught up in their own messes surrounding for-profit colleges.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), for example, supported a for-profit college chain "that has hurt far more students than Trump University has. Corinthian Colleges, which actually offered degrees and was regionally accredited, damaged far more students' lives." As we discussed last year, Corinthian Colleges, which abruptly closed its doors last April, is facing some pretty brutal allegations -- which in turn have raised questions about why Rubio went to bat for Corinthian during an investigation into its allegedly corrupt business practices.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire Public Radio reported yesterday that one of Sen. Kelly Ayotte's (R-N.H.) major donors -- Bridgepoint Education, the parent company of Ashford University, an online university based in California -- is facing several investigations, including from the U.S. Justice Department.
After the Huffington Post reported last month on Bridgepoint's many legal troubles, Ayotte returned the money she'd received from the school.
And in Pennsylvania's closely watched U.S. Senate race, incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey's (R) for-profit-college ties are also becoming a campaign issue. The Huffington Post reported two weeks ago:
A spokesperson for the conservative senator said Toomey had "minimal involvement" with the controversial for-profit school.
It's worth noting, however, that Toomey -- during his tenure as the head of the far-right Club for Growth, but before he entered the Senate -- invested in the online university, served on its board, and appeared in its promotional materials.
For the senator's critics, it therefore matters that Yorktown University has been criticized for "its lack of accreditation, questionable academic offerings and marketing to veterans who can receive government tuition aid."
When Katie McGinty, Toomey's Democratic challenger, began emphasizing this line of criticism, the senator accused her of "resorting to silly nonsensical attacks."