SC

SC Legislative Meddling In Charleston Law School Sale Continues

GOVERNMENT CONTINUES PUSH TO TAKE OVER PRIVATE LAW SCHOOL By FITSNEWS  ||  Government efforts to disrupt the sale of the privately owned Charleston School of Law continued this week when ten Lowcountry lawmakers voted to support a so-called “non-profit” alternative to the school’s pending sale to InfiLaw – a firm which operates…

GOVERNMENT CONTINUES PUSH TO TAKE OVER PRIVATE LAW SCHOOL

By FITSNEWS  ||  Government efforts to disrupt the sale of the privately owned Charleston School of Law continued this week when ten Lowcountry lawmakers voted to support a so-called “non-profit” alternative to the school’s pending sale to InfiLaw – a firm which operates three other law schools around the country.

This “non-profit” – organized by Ed Westbrook, a minority owner of the law school who is intent on disrupting its sale – is widely viewed as a “paper tiger” intended to pave the way for a proposed government takeover of the school.

That takeover would pick up momentum if the CSOL-InfiLaw sale remains in limbo before the S.C. Commission on Higher Education (CHE) – a state bureaucracy that has yet to issue a license to the new owner.

CHE staff have recommended granting this license, while an American Bar Association (ABA) panel ruled last month in favor of the proposed sale from an accreditation standpoint.  The next step would be for the CHE to rule on a license application, although Westbrook has done his best to gum up that process.

In fact Westbrook is now telling lawmakers his “non-profit” idea is necessary because InfiLaw has “failed to gain approval.”

Well yeah … thanks to his self-serving meddling.

During his presentation to lawmakers, Westbrook repeatedly stated his entity “will not seek and does not want any state funding.”

“Let me repeat that because there’s been a lot of misinformation: The non-profit does not want and will not seek any state funding,” he said.

Of course when the question turned to how the entity was going to come up with the estimated $15 million (at minimum) CSOL needs to keep its doors open – Westbrook offered nothing but smoke and mirrors.

“I’m willing to commit my funds to operate the law school,” he said, but offered no specifics.

Westbrook later claimed the school’s alumni had committed $1 million to the proposed “non-profit” and its faculty had pledged another $1 million (professors have that kind of money laying around?) – but he voiced no documentation for these claims.

And yes … assuming he’s telling the truth, that’s clearly nowhere near the level of investment needed to keep the school running.

Amazingly, ten of the 22 members of the Charleston legislative delegation voted to embrace this nonsense.  Not only that, a so-called “free market” supporter – S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms – made the motion to endorse Westbrook’s proposal.

Sadly this isn’t the first time Grooms has pulled a stunt like this.  He sold out taxpayers on a critical measure related to the unnecessary Interstate 526 project last year – and now he’s helping pave the way for a possible government takeover of a private law school.

Shameful …

Thankfully, not all lawmakers went along with the charade.

S.C. Sen. Paul Thurmond – one of a handful of legislators who abstained from voting on Grooms’ motion – said it was inappropriate for lawmakers to vote on the matter before it was first heard by the CHE.  Among those joining Thurmond?  S.C. Sen. Marlon Kimpson and State Rep. Seth Whipper.

Good for them …

Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by S.C. Rep. Eric Bedingfield and House minority leader Todd Rutherford urged the state to butt out of the deal.  We agree … as we’ve said repeatedly, government has no business blocking this private transaction.

Especially when the only alternative is expanding government’s already bloated and duplicative system of higher education …

***

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32 comments

Free Your Mind December 16, 2014 at 10:56 am

Talk about a paper tiger…the $15M is InfiLaw’s number. It is a self-serving number based on what it projects is needed to run the type of law school that it runs…i.e. a diploma mill. CSOL has never had a budget near that number. Perhaps FITS should look into facts before he just starts quoting figures willy nilly.

Speaking of government meddling, does FITS not have any harsh words for Sen. John Courson, who wrote a letter derailing a CHE vote on this very issue last June? That’s going to come back to bite him.

InfiLaw’s game is to stack the deck with new appointees. We all know Haley’s record on appointees (read:dismal). From what I hear, a number of legislators have reason to fear an inquiry into informal lobbying and acceptance of money from InfiLaw. Thurmond’s questions at the meeting last night were quite pointed and will continue, especially in light of the other ethics inquires going on. Legislators are going to be loathe to do anything that looks like political posturing, especially those who it turns out took money.

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CSOL Alumnus December 16, 2014 at 12:02 pm

I understand your concerns but I think the $15 million was related to current debt and bonds required by the state and federal government. Plus I would inagine that the non-profit would have to buy out the other owners. I don’t think that it is Infilaw’s number related to operations.

I am concerned that the school will just shut down at this rate.

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john dozier December 16, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Good riddance to bad rubbish!

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Free Your Mind December 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm

The way bonds work is that you pay a percentage, not the total amount. There is no point of a bond if you have the total cash in hand. Using the 15M figure it totally disingenuous. The amount needed to secure the bond would be much lower. By the way, the reasons these bonds are in jeopardy is because of the actions of current owners in withdrawing money from the business. An association with InfiLaw has destabilized, rather than shored up, this school.

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Frieda December 16, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Clearly all you know about iis getting people out of jail. Business bonds have to be 100% collateralized. The rest of your post obviously comes from the same lack of knowledge.

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Free Your Mind December 16, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I am not sure you understand either. Many schools are non-profits (not “businesses”) and have educational bond requirements. Maybe I am misinformed with regard to how the bonding process works, but the fact remains that these bonds weren’t ever in jeopardy until InfiLaw came on the scene. That is a fact, not opinion. It stands to reason that these issues can be easily resolved once the offending party is sent on its way and the school is run as a different kind of entity.

Frieda December 16, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Even if Infilaw goes away the bonds are still due. Wake. up and smell the coffee.

Free Your Mind December 16, 2014 at 2:25 pm

That may not be the case if the school is no longer considered “at risk.” We weren’t at risk until the minority owners saddled the school with debt to cash out two other owners and by hiring InfiLaw on a consulting basis. Once the CHE votes against InfiLaw, the LLC will have to come up with the cash-out money, or else the personal guarantors (Carr and Kosko) will. Taking $6M in liabilities off the books should certainly cause a reevaulation of the bond requirements.

Also, what do you care if the school goes under? I have already stated my status an alum and that such a result would be preferable to Infilaw. But I’m curious as to your stake here in this fight.

Friedae December 16, 2014 at 2:44 pm

The bond is not there due to InfiLaw. It was there before InfiLaw came onto the scene. It is a requirement for educational institutions in SC.

The main truth in your statements is that the lack of cash in the school is the key issue that gives rise to the current crisis. None of the owners has demonstrated the capacity or willingness to put $15 million into the school. Hence, it will most likely fold and the graduates will be holding a degree of limited value.

Free Your Mind December 16, 2014 at 3:19 pm

I dont really know how else to say this, but I will try again. Yes, the founders took money out of the school. Yes, there were educational bond requirements in place prior to InfiLaw. But the key is that the decision by the two majority owners to saddle the school with $6M in debt plus a contract to have InfiLaw provide some nebulous “consulting” services was the straw that broke the camel’s back. No issues were raised with respect to these bonds until InfiLaw was part of the equation, and it became a convenient ploy for them to argue that they are the only possible suitor for the school.

Perhaps the school will fail. As a graduate, that would be a sad day. But I would much prefer that than to see InfiLaw take it over, flood the market with people who have no business in law school and make bukus of money in the process (and leaving federal taxpayers with the bill, to boot).

frieda December 16, 2014 at 6:22 pm

The two owners who got the 6m are gone. The problem has been the delay caused by the opposition to the sale and the leader of the opposition knew the problem he was causing. Do you think a tax free entity is better than one that pays taxes? Bet they plan to take student loans, charge the same tuition as InfiLaw, BUT not pay taxes. Where do you think that money will go? Transparent? Ha! Look behind the curtain when you stop drinking the cool aid.

Free Your Mind December 17, 2014 at 9:33 am

The difference is simply this: no one will be getting rich on the backs of students. I’d like to see you refute that. If its a non-profit, that money has to be reinvested in the school. The problem, as you describe it, is InfiLaw’s problem….that others wouldn’t just get out of the way. They mishandled this from the get-go and now they are suffering the consequences. Too bad for them that there is an organized, motivated coalition that plans to take it to them at every step. They should have done a touch more (read: any) market research to know this would go over like a lead balloon.

Frieda December 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm
Free Your Mind December 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm

With a local board that includes alumni, that’s unlikely to happen. http://www.lawschooltransition.org

But if there is money to be made, I’d much prefer it be made in SC and not by some corporation that has turned law schools into franchise operations. Since you’re clearly not interested in revealing your allegiances, I’m not sure there’s much left to discuss. Consider this thread closed, from my end.

Frieda December 17, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Well, good luck with your closed mind. Merry Christmas, be sure to leave cookies out for Santa Claus.

Free Your Mind December 18, 2014 at 11:12 am

Just because someone doesn’t agree with your position doesn’t mean they have a “closed mind” and throwing around insults lowers the level of discussion unnecessarily. I won’t apologize for believing that we can do better than InfiLaw and I’d rather be optimistic than jaded any day. I’d venture that the latter has changed much more in this world than the former. A lot of people thought we’d never get this far in our opposition and in our proposal for an alternative. I’m sure InfiLaw didn’t. Must be pretty frustrating for a company that is used to getting what it wants to be held up by a coalition of students, faculty, and alumni. We are just getting started.

Frieda December 18, 2014 at 8:47 pm

It has been 18 months since the sale was announced. Where is your alternative? Where is the money? Where is the better alternative to InfiLaw? It takes constructive effort to build something and only destructive intent to stop it. What constructive has been done? And don’t tell me Ed Westbrook’S hand picking some of his supporters and calling them an not for profit board is constructive. What have they done? Have they even had a meeting? They have no money. Only, “pledges” from an ambiguous group. They have not presented any business plan, not recruited one student, not applied for the first license, not built the first classroom, has no law books much less a library, Not done anything. Certainly not as InfiLaw with THREE fully accredited and licensed law schools. It takes work, not just talking to get something done. When you or your friends actually do something I will have more respect the “alternative.” (Sorry about the typos.)

Fred December 18, 2014 at 9:25 pm

You’re losing, Frieda. Enjoy.

frieda December 19, 2014 at 7:04 am

But what are you winning? Repent at leisure.

Bible Thumper December 16, 2014 at 11:15 am

“Amazingly, ten of the 22 members of the Charleston legislative delegation voted to embrace this nonsense.  Not only that, a so-called “free market” supporter – S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms – made the motion to endorse Westbrook’s proposal.”

So what! The vote of a county delegation doesn’t legislate and a minority at that.

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Jackie Chiles December 16, 2014 at 11:21 am

“Especially when the only alternative is expanding government’s already bloated and duplicative system of higher education …”

That is exactly what the sale of the school to Infinilaw will do.

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GrandTango December 16, 2014 at 11:31 am

Hey FITS, since you and RonPaul are such Legal Geniuses…more than 100 children were just slaughtered in Pakistan by the Taliban…

Are you going to S#!* all over yourself demanding the butchers get DUE PROCESS…and then tell us how the US, by fighting evil, is responsible…Dumb@$$????

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Maggie December 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Ever stay on topic?

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Tom December 16, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I think Fits will tell you it’s Pakistan’s problem…

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GrandTango December 16, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Why….Obama p! $$ed them off….then set them free like your stupid @$$ reccommended….you sucked Obama off..now the bastard gets children mutlated…and you blame someone else…typical coward idiot POS…liberal-tarian..

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Warbucks 4 Bush December 16, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Yeah, Obama’s fault…

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GrandTango December 16, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Those who coddle evil…are just as bad as evil. That is the epitome of Obama. He fears Christians, truth and liberty, more than he does terrorists….So they run wild on your Dumb @$$…

Warbucks 4 Bush December 16, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Bush’s fault then? Got it!

GrandTango December 16, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Y’all HATED Bush for even implying murdering jihadists may be bad people…
It’s how you elected Obama…by convincing enough Dumb@$$#$ that America – because we believe in freedom and strength of the individual – is worse than the terrorist…

Warbucks 4 Bush December 16, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Let’s say sending troops to Iraq didn’t help the Middle-East’s opinion of Americans…

If fact, the Patriot Act was the start of America’s spiral of the eroding of OUR freedoms. So, you just pout about it, Boo…

Ignorance is bliss December 16, 2014 at 3:19 pm

If this “private business deal” closes the buyer will triple the current burden on U.S taxpayers because the size of the school will triple, along with it the number of gov’t backed student loans. (That’s precisely what happened when Infilaw purchased Florida Coastal in the early 2000’s). Make no mistake: access to government money is the ONLY thing this transaction is about, nothing more. Remarkable (and curious?) that this is completely lost on Fitsnews. Ignorance is bliss.

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Bored with Infilaw December 17, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Is it Andy Brack’s idea or George Kosko’s idea to keep saying that a non-profit law school will be a burden on taxpayers, even though it will still be a private law school, and NOT a government-funded school? Also, Andy Brack should update his website about Infilaw “facts” to make a note of the Charleston County legislative delegation’s resolution last night in favor of a non-profit/non-Infilaw alternative.

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