A judicial nominee slated for a key Senate committee vote on Thursday helped devise an illegal Education Department effort to use private Social Security data to deny debt relief to thousands of students cheated by their for-profit colleges, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.
The plan, outlined by Steven J. Menashi when he was acting general counsel under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, was ruled by a federal judge to violate federal privacy laws. She ordered the department to stop the practice.
In the memo, President Trump’s appeals court nominee, who left the Education Department to join the White House legal team, outlined the department’s plan to use earnings data from the Social Security Administration to forgive only a small percentage of debts shouldered by 30,000 borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit chain that the Obama administration found misled thousands of students. Corinthian’s collapse left its students and graduates with worthless degrees and mountains of debt.