ANNOUCNER: It's a Washington, DC, story Kelly Ayotte desperately doesn't want you to hear. An important true story she can't hide from New Hampshire. It started in the height of the economic downturn when for-profit colleges became the darlings of Wall Street.
VIDEO CLIP OF SENATOR TOM HARKIN: The business model was go out and recruit the poorer students. Why? They get the most Pell grants and they get the most loans. The for-profit colleges got the money and the student has the debt.
VIDEO CLIPS OF REPORTERS:
Ashford University will pay $7 million to settle claims that it misled its students. Iowa's attorney general says the university violated the state's Consumer Fraud Act.
Ashford's parent company, Bridgepoint Education, declined our request for an interview.
According to the Ayotte campaign – it was through a published report just last week – the senator and her staff first learned of the controversy surrounding Bridgepoint Education and promptly returned $8,000 in campaign donations. But in April of last year, Ayotte herself presided over the Senate when Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin sounded the alarm on several for-profit educational companies. Senator Durbin mentions by name Ayotte's campaign contributor.
Their parent company, Bridgepoint Education, is under investigation by at least three state attorney generals.
ANNOUNCER: Ayotte even wrote Bridgepoint a letter, thanking them and pledging to remain committed to their shared beliefs – thanking a corporation that preyed on veterans.
NEWS CLIP: One of the for-profit colleges was sending a recruiter to the Wounded Warriors barracks where she was signing up brain-injured Marines who even had difficulty remembering what courses they were taking.
ANNOUNCER: So the next time you hear about Washington special interests rigging the system, now you've seen exactly how they do it.