Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband named as most 'problematic' instance in big admissions scandal at the University of California

There is almost no national media attention to a large admissions scandal rocking the University of California, and (surprise!) the husband of a powerful Democrat seems to be at the center of the most egregious abuse.

While the celebrity-filled admissions scandals surrounding admissions consultant Rick Singer have grabbed major media attention, nobody in the media outside California seems to care very much about this one.

The state auditor of California issued an 82-page report that:

... found that four campuses had admitted at least 64 students between academic years 2013-14 and 2018-19 using inappropriate factors to select them, such as connections to donors, staff or alumni.

Admissions to the University of California are highly prized because tuition there is a fraction (about a third) of what it is at comparable private universities, and the leading campuses, U.C. Berkeley and UCLA, are among the most prestigious in the world, while the other campuses rank very high as well.  U.C. is by far the most highly regarded public university system in the world.

So who is the worst offender?  The Los Angeles Times:

The audit report referred to one "particularly problematic" case involving an unnamed UC regent. The California State Auditor's office has identified that person to The Times as Blum, the husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and a Berkeley alumnus who has given his alma mater millions of dollars over the years.

Blum, who has served as a regent since 2002, declined to comment. Feinstein had no comment, spokesman Tom Mentzer said. (snip)

UC Berkeley was the worst offender, the audit said, with 55 cases of inappropriate admissions. Among them, 14 cases involved students who were denied admission through the regular process and were offered a spot on the waitlist. Blum's letter came in support of one of those waitlisted students, the audit said.

But that student, like the 13 others on the waitlist, had received "uncompetitive scores from readers that gave them poor chances of being admitted," the audit said.

Blum wrote a letter of advocacy about the student to the UC Berkeley chancellor, which was forwarded to the development office responsible for handling fundraising and relations with donors. Blum has been a longtime supporter of Berkeley, donating $15 million in 2006 to launch the Blum Center for Developing Economies to address global poverty and subsequent contributions to expand that work.

The development office then forwarded the letter to the admissions office, the audit said. The two offices conferred on who should be admitted from the waitlist. Blum's favored applicant had only a 26% chance of acceptance based on ratings by application readers, the audit said, but won admission.

The audit report noted that UC policies allow regents to submit letters of recommendation, when appropriate, during the regular admissions process — but that Blum's letter came outside those bounds after the student was denied initial acceptance and placed on the waitlist.

"Given the low likelihood of this applicant's admission and the prominent and influential role that Regents have within the university, we conclude that the decision to admit this applicant was likely influenced by the Regent's advocacy," the audit said.


Richard Blum at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Blum Center at U.C. Berkeley.
Photo credit: Jarrettf20019, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

So some more deserving applicant was denied admission to U.C. Berkeley because Feinstein's husband used his influence.

But remember that Democrats are for the "little guy."

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