Former Congresswoman-turned-Washington lobbyist Melissa Hart (R-PA) has a misguided opinion piece in today’s Washington Times (“Justice gets lost in the revolving door — Current and former public officials team up to plunder for-profit schools”). Among her ludicrous claims is that a qui tam case against Education Management Corp. is “a shocking example of the judicial revolving door” because a former U.S. attorney in Pennsylvania — who now is of counsel to Phillips & Cohen LLP — is representing the whistleblower, and the current U.S. attorney in that same office has decided to pursue the case.
Phillips & Cohen is not involved in the case. But Colette G. Matzzie, a Phillips & Cohen partner, posted this comment on the Washington Times website:
“The for-profit schools are the ones who have plundered the United States Treasury to the tune of many billions and left many students with crippling student loan debt and little prospects of gainful employment. One expose after another has revealed the coercive tactics used by many of the for profit schools to get ‘butts in seats’ including compensating admissions recruiters through bonuses and incentives. Quality educational institutions do not need to coerce students to enroll or convince them to stay long enough for their financial aid obligations to kick in. The EDMC lawsuit is one step toward addressing these fraudulent abuses and who better than former prosecutors to lead the way.”
We only wish Hart were correct that “the Justice Department brings with it endless resources to pursue such a case.” Clearly Hart knows nothing about qui tam cases. The Justice Department, unfortunately, has limited resources for qui tam cases, which is why a whistleblower’s choice of an attorney – one with a track record and who has the resources to pursue a case – is extremely important.