Audio: Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock says Trump campaign directed fake electors!

Dear Commons Community,

Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock said that the Trump presidential campaign directed Republicans in Michigan to seat fake GOP Electoral College delegates, according to audio (above) obtained by CNN.  As reported by USA Today.

“We fought to seat the electors. The Trump campaign asked us to do that. I’m under a lot of scrutiny for that today,” Maddock is heard saying in the audio reportedly recorded at a conservative gathering last week, according to CNN. In the audio, Maddock does not say whether she personally communicated with officials from the Trump campaign. 

Maddock did not immediately provide a comment to the Free Press. The Michigan Republican Party also did not immediately respond to emails. 

Michigan GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock claps as members of the Kalamazoo County Republicans meet at Traveler’s Cafe and Pub in Portage during a luncheon on June 10, 2021. The keynote speaker of the event was Maddock.

The plan was part of a quixotic effort to overturn the election in Michigan to hand the state to Trump. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and her team investigated the acts for possible election fraud charges, recently referring the matter to federal prosecutors.

On the day in 2020 that Michigan’s presidential electors met to award the state’s 16 Electoral College votes to Joe Biden — who won the state by more than 154,000 votes — Republicans, including Maddock, tried to enter the state Capitol to convene a false slate of GOP electors. Maddock’s husband, state Rep. Matt Maddock, R-Milford, also was present. 

Law enforcement blocked the group from entering. But that did not stop the overall effort. Meshawn Maddock and 15 other Republicans signed a document falsely claiming Trump’s victory in the state.

That document was sent to the the office of Vice President Mike Pence, the Michigan Secretary of State, the National Archivist and the chief judge of the western district of Michigan, Nessel said earlier this week.

The document indicates that all but two Republicans nominated to cast Michigan’s Electoral College votes had Trump won the state signed their names. Terri Lynn Land and Gerald Wall — two Republican nominees — did not sign. Instead the document includes the signatures of James Renner and Ken Thompson.

The archivist rejected the document, notifying Nessel and others in the process. The documents also are part of the U.S. House’s broad January 6 commission inquiry. 

Nessel’s office said her office has been investigating the signatories’ actions and that she “absolutely” had enough evidence to bring state charges, but referred the matter to federal prosecutors because she said the effort in Michigan appears to have been part of a multistate conspiracy to overturn the election. 

“…Our hope is that the federal authorities and the Department of Justice and United States Attorney General Merrick Garland will take this in coordination with all the other information they’ve received and make an evaluation as to what charges these individuals might (face),” Nessel said. 

Recently, the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol broadly cited efforts by Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani to influence legislators in Michigan and elsewhere. The committee references his attempts in Michigan and other states; he appeared in Lansing in 2020 during a lengthy hearing where he and others presented a litany of false statements about the election. 

In the Maddock audio recording, she references her husband and says he “fought for a team of people to come and testify in front of the committee.” She doesn’t reference which committee, but is likely referring to the hearing with Giuliani and others. 

The Maddocks’ efforts to meddle in the election didn’t end in Michigan.

Rep. Maddock was among the 15 Republican state lawmakers in the House who sought to join the U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit to overturn the election in Michigan and other battleground states. And Meshawn Maddock helped organize buses from the state to head to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election.

A video from the Right Side Broadcasting network shows the Maddocks speaking at a rally in the nation’s capital the day before the deadly insurrection.

The sleaze associated with the 2020 Trump campaign just keeps oozing out!


Igor Fruman:  Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani Associate Receives a One-Year Prison Sentence!


Igor Fruman with Donald Trump

Dear Commons Community,

Igor Fruman, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was a key player in a shadowy diplomacy campaign to advance then-President Donald J. Trump’s interests and damage his political adversaries, pleaded guilty to soliciting foreign campaign contributions by asking a Russian tycoon for $1 million for American political candidates. And yesterday a judge in Federal District Court in Manhattan fined Mr. Fruman $10,000 and sentenced him to one year and one day in prison, in addition to the more than two years Mr. Fruman has spent in home confinement since his arrest.  As reported by The New York Times and Reuters.

Addressing Judge J. Paul Oetken, Mr. Fruman said he had spent the time since his arrest reflecting on his actions.

“It’s a shame that will live with me forever,” he said. “But I can assure you, my family, and the government that I will never appear before yourself or another courtroom again.”

The sentencing closed a chapter for Mr. Fruman, who was arrested in 2019 at Dulles International Airport, along with a business partner, Lev Parnas, as they were about to leave the country.

The two Soviet-born businessmen had worked their way into Republican circles in 2018, donating money and posing for selfies with candidates. They had dinner with Mr. Trump at his hotel in Washington, D.C., and became friendly with Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

Eventually, Mr. Fruman and Mr. Parnas were connected to investigations and an impeachment, assisting Mr. Giuliani as he attempted to undermine Joseph R. Biden Jr., who ended up defeating Mr. Trump in 2020.

Mr. Giuliani credited Mr. Fruman and Mr. Parnas with arranging a meeting with Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s former top prosecutor and a key figure in Republican attacks on Mr. Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

And Mr. Fruman’s connections helped lead to a meeting between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Shokin’s successor, Yuriy Lutsenko, according to two people with knowledge of the arrangements. Mr. Lutsenko, who was helping Mr. Giuliani unearth damaging information about the Bidens, also wanted Marie L. Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, to be removed from her post. She was recalled in 2019.

While I give him credit for showing remorse, it is hard to forgive Fruman for his role in the 2020 election and the Ukraine affair.


Trump Election Interference Investigation in Georgia Being Pursued by Prosecutor Fani Willis!

Fulton County DA Requests Special Grand Jury to Help With Trump Probe

Fani Willis Seeking Special Grand Jury for Election Interference by Donald Trump

Dear Commons Community,

Those of us living in New York see news every other week about the latest judicial proceedings being carried out against Donald Trump and his family by either the New York City District Attorney or the New York State Attorney General.  Now Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney is upping her office’s action against Trump for interference in the 2020 general election by asking for a special grand jury.  As reported by various news media.

“Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis is  looking into possible attempts to interfere in the 2020 general election by former President Donald Trump and others has asked for a special grand jury to aid the investigation.

Fulton County District Attorney Willis yesterday sent a letter to Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Christopher Brasher asking him to impanel a special grand jury. She wrote in the letter that her office “has received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia’s administration of elections in 2020, including the State’s election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions.”

Willis has declined to speak about the specifics of her investigation, but in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month she confirmed that its scope includes — but is not limited to — a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a November 2020 phone call between U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021, and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election.

A Trump spokesman has previously dismissed the investigation as a politically motivated “witch hunt.” Graham has also denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement yesterday, Trump said his call to Raffensperger was “perfect.”

“I didn’t say anything wrong in the call, made while I was President on behalf of the United States of America, to look into the massive voter fraud which took place in Georgia,” Trump said. He ended his statement by saying, “No more political witch hunts!”

Federal and state officials have repeatedly said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Georgia or elsewhere in the country during the 2020 election.

Willis’ office has tried to interview multiple witnesses and gather evidence, but some witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate without a subpoena, she wrote in the letter to Brasher. For example, Willis wrote in the letter that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom she calls an “essential witness,” has “indicated that he will not participate in an interview or otherwise offer evidence until he is presented with a subpoena by my office.” A special grand jury would have the power to subpoena witnesses.

Raffensperger’s office did not immediately respond to an email Thursday asking whether he would decline to participate without a subpoena.

Special grand juries, which are not used often in Georgia, can help in the investigation of complex matters. They do not have the power to return an indictment but can make recommendations to prosecutors on criminal prosecutions.

Willis said the special grand jury is needed because it can serve a term longer than a normal grand jury term. It would also be able to focus on this investigation alone, allowing it to focus on the complex facts and circumstances. And having a special grand jury would mean that the regular seated grand jury wouldn’t have to deal with this investigation in addition to their regular duties, Willis wrote.

She also asked that a superior court judge be appointed to assist and supervise the special grand jury in its investigation.

Willis, who took office in January 2021, sent letters to top elected officials in Georgia in February instructing them to preserve any records related to the general election, particularly any evidence of attempts to influence election officials. The probe includes “potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration,” the letters said.

Willis, a longtime prosecutor, has repeatedly said that she’s aware of the intense public interest in her investigation, but she’s said she won’t be rushed. She told the AP that a decision on whether to seek charges in the case could come in the first half of this year.

In her letter to Brasher, Willis said her office has learned that people who may have tried to influence Georgia’s election have had contact with the secretary of state, the state attorney general and the U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta. That means her office is the only one with the authority to investigate these matters that is not also a potential witness.”

Trump and family will be in judicial proceedings for years to come.

We wish Ms. Willis luck with her investigation!


Dr. Anthony Fauci says that COVID-19 can become an endemic later this year. What does this mean?

How can the world adapt to Covid-19 in the long term? | News | Wellcome

Dear Commons Community,

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, commented yesterday that COVID-19 could become endemic in 2022  if certain parameters are met.

If you get “a combination of enough people vaccinated and boosted together with people who are infected and recover and have a degree of immunity — hopefully they’ll wind up getting vaccinated too — and you have a virus, a variant, that has a lesser degree of pathogenicity” and it isn’t disrupting society, then and only then can it be considered endemic, Fauci said.

Some European countries such as Spain are making tentative plans for when they might start treating COVID-19 as an “endemic” disease, but the World Health Organization and other officials have warned that the world is not close to declaring the pandemic over.  Here is an analysis of what endemic means courtesy of the Associated Press.


Diseases are endemic when they occur regularly in certain areas according to established patterns, while a pandemic refers to a global outbreak that causes unpredictable waves of illness.

The World Health Organization has said that redefining the coronavirus as an endemic disease is still “a ways off,” according to Catherine Smallwood, an infectious diseases expert in the agency’s European headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. “We still have a huge amount of uncertainty and a virus that is evolving quickly,” she said earlier this month.

For many countries, designating a disease as endemic means that fewer resources will be available to combat it, since it will likely no longer be considered a public health emergency.


Most wealthy countries will probably make that decision themselves depending on how the virus is circulating within their borders and on the potential for new cases to cause big outbreaks. The COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and other measures widely available in rich countries will likely help them curb outbreaks long before the virus is brought under control globally.

The WHO does not technically declare pandemics. Its highest alert level is a global health emergency, and COVID-19 has warranted that distinction since January 2020. The U.N. health agency has convened an expert committee every three months since then to reassess the situation.

It’s likely the pandemic will be over when the WHO’s experts declare that COVID-19 no longer qualifies as a global emergency, but the criteria for that decision are not precisely defined.

“It’s somewhat a subjective judgment because it’s not just about the number of cases. It’s about severity and it’s about impact,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief.

Others have pointed out that designating COVID-19 as endemic is arguably a political question rather than a scientific one, and it speaks to how much disease and death national authorities and their citizens are willing to tolerate.


Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said last week that falling death rates for COVID-19 suggest that it’s time for European officials to start considering whether the disease should be considered endemic. That means Spanish officials would no longer need to record every COVID-19 infection and that people with symptoms would not necessarily be tested, but they would continue to be treated if they are sick. The proposal has been discussed with some EU officials, but no decisions have been made.

In October, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control issued advice on how countries might transition to more routine surveillance of COVID-19 after the acute phase of the pandemic. Among its recommendations, the agency said countries should integrate their monitoring of the coronavirus with other diseases like flu and test a representative sample of COVID-19 cases, rather than attempting to test every person with symptoms.


No. Many serious diseases, including tuberculosis and HIV, are considered endemic in parts of the world and continue to kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. Malaria, for example, is considered endemic in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa and is estimated to cause more than 200 million cases every year, including about 600,000 deaths.

“Endemic in itself does not mean good,” Ryan said. “Endemic just means it’s here forever.”

Health officials warn that even after COVID-19 becomes an established respiratory virus like seasonal flu, the virus will continue to be fatal for some.

Even after the pandemic ends, “COVID will still be with us,” said Dr. Chris Woods, an infectious disease expert at Duke University. “The difference is people won’t be dying indiscriminately because of it, and it will be so routine that we will have much better and fairer access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for all.”

Endemic is better than pandemic!



Theodore Roosevelt Statue Removal Begins at Museum of Natural History!

Credit…The New York Times

Dear Commons Community,

A crane descended last night on the bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt, lifting his upper body from the pedestal where it has presided at the American Museum of Natural History since 1940. The remainder of the sculpture, now surrounded by scaffolding, is scheduled to leave in pieces through the coming week. Flanked by representations of a Native American man and an African man on foot, the statue has stood for more than 80 years..

A spokeswoman for the institution said that the approximately $2 million removal process was conducted with historic preservation specialists and several dozen workers. It was approved by multiple New York City agencies.  As reported by The New York Times.

The New York City Public Design Commission voted last June to remove the statue; in November, its destination — the new Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora, N.D. — was announced. The statue is moving to storage and will be shipped to the presidential library within a few weeks.

The removal caps a decades-long saga of protests by critics who argued that the equestrian statue symbolized the painful legacy of museums upholding images of colonialism and racism in their exhibitions. Activists have targeted the monument since the 1970s; in recent years, they have tried shrouding the sculpture with a parachute and defacing it with red paint. Holland Cotter, co-chief art critic for The New York Times, characterized the statue as one of the most contested images, and monuments, in New York City.

“The time has come to move it,” the museum’s president, Ellen V. Futter, said in an interview with The New York Times when she announced the sculpture’s impending removal in 2020.

The statue, designed by the American sculptor James Earle Fraser in 1939, was one of four memorials that a city commission had reconsidered in 2017, ultimately deciding in a split decision to leave it in place and add context. Its 2019 exhibition, “Addressing the Statue,” discussed the figures walking beside Roosevelt and Roosevelt’s complex legacy, which included overt racism in his later years.

But efforts to contextualize the statue mattered little to those who view it as a barometer of the heated national debate over who gets honored in bronze and marble. Protesters across the political spectrum have used the Roosevelt monument as a backdrop for their opinions on the topic. And national efforts to dismantle statues for Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee have widened to include figures like Christopher Columbus and Winston Churchill.

The most recent example of a monument removed in New York was that of another former president: In November, the City Council relocated a statue of Thomas Jefferson from its chambers to the New-York Historical Society after legislators objected to the president’s legacy as an enslaver.

Anne Canty, a spokeswoman for the natural history museum, said that the plaza in front of its entrance will be restored — a project that will continue through the spring. At that point a plaque will mark the continuing site of the New York State Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, which still includes the Rotunda and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall in the museum.


“The world does not need statues, relics of another age, that reflect neither the values of the person they intend to honor nor the values of equality and justice,” said Theodore Roosevelt IV, a great-grandson of the 26th president, said in a statement approving the removal.

US Supreme Court Rejects Trump Request to Block White House Records!

Donald Trump Loses Supreme Court Bid Over January 6 Documents – Deadline

Dear Commons Community,

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday rejected former President Donald Trump’s request to block the release of certain White House records sought by the Democratic-led congressional panel investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters.

The decision means the documents, held by a federal agency that stores government and historical records, can be disclosed even as litigation over the matter continues in lower courts.

Only one of the court’s nine members, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, publicly noted disagreement with the decision.  As reported by Reuters.

Trump’s request to the justices came after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Dec. 9 ruled that he had no basis to challenge President Joe Biden’s decision to allow the records to be handed over to the House of Representatives select committee.

Trump and his allies have waged an ongoing legal battle with the committee seeking to block access to documents and witnesses. Trump has sought to invoke a legal principle known as executive privilege, which protects the confidentially of some internal White House communications, a stance rejected by lower courts.

The brief Supreme Court order noted that the weighty question of whether a former president can assert an executive privilege claim did not need to be answered to resolve the case.

“Because the court of appeals concluded that President Trump’s claims would have failed even if he were the incumbent, his status as a former president necessarily made no difference to the court’s decision,” the unsigned order said.

The House committee has said it needs the records to understand any role Trump may have played in fomenting the violence that unfolded on Jan. 6, 2021. His supporters stormed the Capitol in a failed bid to prevent Congress from formally certifying Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory over Trump.

The committee has asked the National Archives, which holds Trump’s White House records, to produce visitor logs, phone records and written communications between his advisers.

Biden, who took office two weeks after the riot, has determined that the records, which belong to the executive branch, should not be subject to executive privilege and that turning them over to Congress was in the best interests of the nation. Trump has argued that he can invoke executive privilege based on the fact he was president at the time even though he is no longer in office.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Nov. 9 rejected Trump’s arguments, saying he had not acknowledged the “deference owed” to Biden’s determination that the committee could access the records and adding: “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”

The select committee comprises seven Democrats and two Republicans. The Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority includes three justices appointed by Trump, but it has not always been receptive to his requests.

The court last year rejected his request to block disclosure of his tax records as part of a criminal investigation in New York and also turned away attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election.

Shortly before the riot, Trump repeated to a crowd of his supporters his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud, telling them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” to “stop the steal.”

Any delay by the Supreme Court in allowing the disclosure of the records could have imperiled the panel’s chances of obtaining them. The committee aims to finish its work before the November congressional elections in which Trump’s fellow Republicans are seeking to regain House control. Republicans opposed the panel’s creation and could shut down the inquiry if they win a majority in the chamber.

Trump is learning that the US Supreme Court justices, even those he has appointed, are not beholding to him.


Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera Rips Rand Paul and Roger Marshall for Turning Senate into ‘Jerry Springer Show’

Dear Commons Community,

Fox News veteran Geraldo Rivera yesterday ripped Republican senators for turning the Senate into “The Jerry Springer Show.”

The Senate “used to be ‘the world’s most deliberative body,’” the conservative commentator wrote on Twitter (see above).

But “lately, it’s been a Bazaar for Bozos,” he lamented.

Rivera called out the “low-brow, rudeness” from GOP senators like Rand Paul (Ky.) and Roger Marshall (Kan.), who have both launched unhinged attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, in recent weeks.

Paul ridiculously blamed Fauci for all deaths from the coronavirus in the United States. Marshall, meanwhile, pursued a futile line of inquiry when he grilled Fauci on making public his investments which are actually already in the public domain, prompting Fauci to say on a hot mic: “What a moron. Jesus Christ.”

Paul and Marshall’s “savage attacks” on Fauci “have no shame,” Rivera added in his tweet.

I am not a big fan of Geraldo Rivera but he is telling it like it is!



Why Airlines Fear New 5G Service Could Be Dangerous!

Rollout of 5G in US POSTPONED hours before switch-on over fears it could  interfere with aeroplanes | Daily Mail Online

Dear Commons Community

AT&T and Verizon will postpone new 5G wireless service near some airports planned for this week after the nation’s largest airlines said the service would interfere with aircraft technology and cause massive flight disruptions.

AT&T said Tuesday it would delay turning on new cell towers around runways at some airports — it did not say how many — and work with federal regulators to settle the dispute.

Verizon said it will launch its new 5G network but added, “we have voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports.”

The moves came after the airline industry raised the stakes in a showdown with AT&T and Verizon over plans to launch 5G wireless service this week, warning that thousands of flights could be grounded or delayed if the rollout takes place near major airports.

Here is a rundown of the issue from The Associated Press.




The Federal Communications Commission, which runs the auctions of radio spectrum, determined that C-Band could be used safely in the vicinity of air traffic. The FCC in 2020 set a buffer between the 5G band and the spectrum that planes use to resolve any safety concerns.

But Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson, whose agency is responsible for aviation safety, saw a potential problem. On Friday, they asked AT&T and Verizon to hold off activating C-Band 5G near an undetermined number of “priority airports” while the FAA conducted further study



They dismissed the concerns. The wireless industry trade group CTIA notes that about 40 countries have deployed the C-Band strand of 5G without reports of harmful interference with aviation equipment.

But AT&T CEO John Stankey and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg did offer to reduce the power of their 5G networks near airports, as France has done.

“The laws of physics are the same in the United States and France,” Stankey and Vestberg said in a letter Sunday to Buttigieg and Dickson. “If U.S. airlines are permitted to operate flights every day in France, then the same operating conditions should allow them to do so in the United States.”

Although they took steps to soothe the federal officials, the telecoms are still bickering with airlines, which have canceled more than 10,000 U.S. flights since Christmas Eve because of bad weather and labor shortages caused by COVID-19.

“While the airline industry faces many challenges, 5G is not one of them,” Vestberg said in a company memo Tuesday.



Under the agreement, the FAA will conduct a survey to find out. The FAA will allow planes with accurate, reliable altimeters to operate around high-power 5G. But planes with older altimeters will not be allowed to make landings under low-visibility conditions.



The two-week postponement will give the FAA and the companies time to implement the agreement.

AT&T and Verizon will be allowed to launch C-Band service this month under already-granted FCC licenses. The airlines have until Friday to give the companies a list of up to 50 airports where they believe the power of C-Band service should be reduced through July 5.

Until July, the telecoms will talk to the FAA and airlines about potential long-term measures regarding 5G service near airports. However, under terms of the agreement with the FAA, AT&T and Verizon will have sole power to decide if any changes in service will be made.

“We felt that it was the right thing to do for the flying public, which includes our customers and all of us, to give the FAA a little time to work out its issues with the aviation community and therefore avoid further inconveniencing passengers with additional flight delays,” Vestberg said in his memo.

Nicholas Calio, president of the airline trade group, was more muted in his comments about the agreement, although he thanked federal officials for reaching the deal with AT&T and Verizon.

“Safety is and always will be the top priority of U.S. airlines. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to help ensure that new 5G service can coexist with aviation safely,” Calio said.

The FAA issued a brief statement about the two-week delay, saying it looks forward “to using the additional time and space to reduce flight disruptions associated with this 5G deployment.”

The airline industry has a point here.  Err on the side of safety please!


Senate Democrats (Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Tina Smith of Minnesota) Probing Online Program Management (OPM) Companies!

Click Here to See Full text of the Letter

Dear Commons Community,

Three Senate Democrats are raising concerns with companies that develop online degree programs for universities over whether their recruiting tactics and tuition-sharing arrangements are contributing to high student debt loads.

The senators, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Tina Smith of Minnesota, sent a letter Friday to eight of the largest online program management, or OPM, companies — including 2U, Academic Partnerships and Pearson — raising concerns about their business practices.

“We continue to have concerns about the impact of OPM partnerships on rising student debt loads,” the senators wrote. “The responses to our previous letters confirmed that OPMs often have tuition-sharing arrangements with universities, which commit an ongoing percentage of tuition revenue to the OPM to finance the start-up and ongoing costs of operating online degree programs.”

The tuition-sharing model, they said, “also creates incentives for aggressive recruitment practices.”

The companies often receive 50 percent or more of students’ tuition upon each agreement, which in turn may create a disincentive to lower costs, the senators said.

Millions of dollars in financial student aid go to online degree programs every year. But there is no consistent public disclosure of how much of the money is directed to recruiting, advertising and profit, rather than instruction.

The senators asked the companies for information about the scale and logistics of online program operations and tuition-sharing agreements, the demographics of the students they serve and breakdowns of their expenditures and their use of federal aid dollars by no later than Jan. 28.

The senators first questioned the companies in a letter sent in January 2020. Since then, the Covid pandemic has significantly increased the need for online education, the senators said in a statement.

In separate statements, 2U, Academic Partnerships and Pearson said they intend to continue dialogue with policymakers.

Pearson “welcomes the opportunity to engage with policymakers and officials about the benefits of online degree programs,” a company spokesperson said.

2U “welcomes continued discussions about the important role that we play in helping non-profit colleges and universities make quality online education more accessible and affordable,” a company spokesperson said.

Academic Partnerships “will continue our differentiated strategy focused on regional public universities across the country and continue our open dialog with all stakeholders,” a company spokesperson said.

Student loan advocates and some congressional Democrats, including Warren, have continued to put pressure on the Biden administration to cancel student debt and grant greater financial relief during the pandemic. More than 44 million people owe about $1.7 trillion in student loan debt.

The administration announced last month that a moratorium on federal student loan payments would be extended through May 1 because of the rise in cases of the highly transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus.

An investigation into OPMs is most appropriate!



Trump Reportedly Nervous about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Running for President in 2024!

Donald Trump Spent Weekend Stewing That 'Wiseguy' Ron DeSantis Won't Kiss His Ring

Dear Commons Community,

Over the weekend, several news outlets posted stories about Donald Trump becoming nervous about the possible presidential candidacy of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.  It makes sense that someone like DeSantis would seek the Republican nomination.  Philosophically he is very close to Trump but he is not obsessed with spreading lies about the 2020 election.  DeSantis would be a formidable opponent for Trump.  I suspect we will see other Republicans coming forward by 2024.  Below is a synthesis of Trump’s reactions courtesy of several news outlets.

After I posted the above, I came across an analysis of the Trump/DeSantis feud on NBC News that points a finger at Mitch McConnell.



Donald Trump is reportedly growing annoyed with one potential 2024 rival for the Republican presidential nomination: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“He says DeSantis has no personal charisma and has a dull personality,” one unnamed source told Axios.

While several potential 2024 Republican candidates have publicly said they won’t seek the nomination if Trump runs for a third time, DeSantis isn’t one of them.

“I wonder why the guy won’t say he won’t run against me,” Trump has reportedly said to associates, according to the New York Times.

That lack of deference seems to have led to Trump’s attack on “gutless” politicians last week that many believe was a thinly veiled attack on DeSantis.

That moment came during an interview with far-right One America News in which the former president said he got a booster shot for the coronavirus and called out GOP pols who have also gotten the shot but won’t admit it,

“They don’t want to say it because they’re gutless,” Trump said. “You got to say it — whether you had it or not, say it.”

DeSantis is among those who’ve ducked the question.

The Times said Trump is especially unhappy as he believes his early endorsement helped DeSantis win the governorship in 2018, and that DeSantis “didn’t have a chance” in the race without the help of the then-president.

Trump allies have warned DeSantis not to test the former president.

Roger Stone said last year that he could spoil DeSantis’ reelection bid this year by running against him as a Libertarian candidate … but will back off if DeSantis pledges not to run against Trump in 2024.

Trump himself has publicly said he’s not worried.

“If I faced him, I’d beat him like I would beat everyone else,” he told Yahoo News last year, adding that he didn’t expect DeSantis to run in the end: “I think most people would drop out, I think he would drop out.”

DeSantis has not said if he intends to run for president.