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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


Still No Evidence That Donald Trump Has ‘Self-Funded’ His Campaign

Donald Trump has contributed a total of $395,508 to his campaign, as of his latest Federal Election Commission filing in June.

The number Trump refers to when he talks about “self-funding” his campaign — usually $50 million, though the latest government figure is $45.7 million — is the amount he has loaned his campaign.

And though Donald claims to have converted these loans into outright contributions, there is no evidence that this is the case.

According to Lawrence Noble, general counsel of the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center, Trump must submit public documentation to the FEC at some point recording the conversion of his loans into contributions. Representatives of the FEC said Monday that they still have not received any such documentation from the Trump campaign.

The next FEC filing deadline, July 20, comes one day after Trump is scheduled to become the official Republican nominee for president. On Wednesday, we will have another opportunity to see whether Trump’s loans have been paid off — by himself, or by his supporters.

Though Noble noted that regulations on candidates loaning their campaigns money are fairly new, he said “it would probably be unprecedented” for a candidate to publicly go back on a pledge such as Trump’s.

The scam, were Trump to try it, would work like this: As long as his loans remain loans, not contributions, he can legally pay himself back with money from his campaign’s bank account until 20 days after the primary election ends — likely on Tuesday, when Trump becomes the official Republican nominee.

If he does pay himself back within those 20 days, we likely wouldn’t know until his campaign files its August financial report, in mid-September.

Taking into account the millions of dollars Trump has already paid to his own companies, family, and friends, were Trump to pay himself back millions of dollars in loans, he would become the first presidential candidate in modern history to legally profit off of a campaign.

I’ve been writing about this possible scam since March. In May, MSNBC’s Ari Melber reported on Trump’s loan situation, and in June, Trump publicly declared that he would not be paying himself back — and then followed up angrily on Twitter. Weeks after his public declaration, Trump has made no effort to assure supporters and donors and he won’t use their money to pay himself back.

Meanwhile, Trump has launched a frantic fundraising effort — holding high, high-dollar private fundraisers, pledging in fundraising emails to match supporter contributions dollar-for-dollar, and selecting Koch Brother favorite Mike Pence as his running mate.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request to comment.


Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S., July 5, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Helping Young Adults Means More Than Writing a Check

Dear Carrie, Several years ago, I loaned my then 24-year-old son money to buy a car on the condition that he pay it back in monthly installments. Because of some job problems, he wasn’t able to keep up with the payments. Now he’s back on his feet and wants to start paying me again. While I’m happy he’s being responsible, I’m hesitant to take his money. I’m more financially secure than he is, and I know there are lots of things he needs to save for. On the other hand, I don’t want to lessen his sense of responsibility or independence. Any ideas on how to handle this?

—A Reader

Dear Reader, This is a great question because so many parents of young adults are faced with a similar dilemma. As you watch your kids struggle financially, of course you want to help. To me, that’s what families are for. And once your kids are grounded and feel confident that they can take care of themselves, it’s a pleasure to help them — and can make a big difference in their lives and the lives of their own families. However, how you give the help is important.

I applaud you for offering to loan your son the money for his car, not just making it a gift. Paying for a car over time provides important financial lessons, involving saving, budgeting and working towards a specific goal. Now that your son is in a better financial position and wants to pay you back, he obviously appreciates those lessons. And, as you imply, it’s important not to do anything to take away his drive.

On the other hand, as a mother, I completely understand your desire to continue to help him. So first, let’s talk about how you might handle the payments. Then we’ll explore other positive ways to give financial help.

Be creative about a repayment plan

Since you’re uncomfortable accepting payments because your son needs the money more than you do, there are a couple ways to handle this that could work for both of you.

One idea is to set a monthly payment your son could easily afford. Accept the payments, but put half aside to help him again when he needs it. You don’t even have to tell him you’re doing this. He’ll feel the pride and confidence that comes with making good on a debt. And you’ll know that you’re actually using that money for his future benefit.

Another possibility is to strike a deal where your son divides his payment into two parts: half to you and half into his savings account or IRA. That way, he’ll be encouraged to pay his debts as well as save for his future.

By accepting some sort of payment, you’re acknowledging your son’s financial responsibility and encouraging his good habits. Refusing to accept payment might actually undermine both.

Look for other ways to help that foster growth and independence

Even if you’re in a position to help grown kids financially, I think it’s important to be selective and not just write a check. Ideally, you want to offer help that reflects your values and can have a positive impact both today and down the road. Here are three areas to consider:

—Insurance and health care costs: If a young adult doesn’t have health insurance, consider paying initial premiums on a high deductible policy. You’ll not only be helping with the monthly bills, you’ll be emphasizing the importance of having adequate coverage. Even with a high deductible policy, there still may be periodic medical expenses that need to be covered. You could offer to pick these up for a specified time period. If you make a direct payment to a healthcare provider or hospital on behalf of another person, there’s no gift tax.

—Education, both for kids and grandkids: Whether it’s an advanced degree or the need for new job skills, education is expensive. Would you be willing to cover these costs? What about paying for daycare or pre-school for the grandkids?

—Keeping a roof over their heads: Coming up with move-in costs such as first and last month’s rent plus deposit is a struggle for many young adults just getting started. Covering these costs can be an excellent opportunity to help get a young person get off the ground. When it comes to buying a first house, helping with a down payment is a positive way to offer support, whether as a gift or a loan.

Make a gift as part of estate planning

If reducing your taxable estate during your lifetime makes sense, you can gift up to $14,000 a year to an individual without incurring gift taxes ($28,000 for a married couple splitting gifts.) You might also consider gifting larger amounts to a 529 College Savings Plan—an excellent opportunity for grandparents to make a significant, targeted contribution.

There are many reasons why grown kids might need financial help — after all we live in a very expensive world — so if you can help, by all means, do it. To me, it’s an investment in the next generation. Just make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re giving and that your kids know what’s expected in return.

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm), is president of Charles Schwab Foundation and author of The Charles Schwab Guide to Finances After Fifty, available in bookstores nationwide. Read more at You can e-mail Carrie at This column is no substitute for an individualized recommendation, tax, legal or personalized investment advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, consult with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, financial planner or investment manager.

Photo via Images Money, Flickr  

Corinthian College Students Sort Through Confusion, Bureaucracy After Company’s Fall

By Katy Murphy, San Jose Mercury News (TNS)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Six months after the unprecedented demise of a career-college giant mired in allegations of fraud and deception, thousands of former Corinthian College students are still sorting through the mess they were left with in April when the last 28 of the company’s high-priced schools — most of them in California — closed.

The Corinthian story drew widespread media attention and calls from political leaders to help those who had been exploited by the for-profit, Santa Ana-based chain. But instead of relief for loans that can run to tens of thousands of dollars, many have found little but confusion and bureaucracy. And this month California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that sought to help former Corinthian students weigh their options through expanded legal assistance programs.

Consider this: Despite an extraordinary step by the U.S. Department of Education this summer to make some 40,000 Heald College students enrolled as far back as 2010 eligible for student loan forgiveness through a much-simplified process, less than one-sixth had filed such claims by mid-October, according to preliminary figures and estimates from the department.

It’s not surprising to Tiffany Johnson, a former Heald student who said she has watched her fellow classmates sort through the myths and misinformation, agonizing over what to do — whether to transfer their credits, for instance, or to apply for a federal loan discharge and start over.

“My heart really goes out to them because they don’t know where to go for help — and it’s really sad,” said Johnson, of San Bruno, who attended Heald College’s medical assisting programs in San Francisco and Hayward before the doors slammed shut.

Johnson, who was just six months from earning a degree, said she struggled on her own for about two months before she was referred to a legal assistance center in the East Bay through a Facebook page created earlier this year by former Corinthian students. The law clinic helped her file a claim with the Department of Education, she said, and it was approved over the summer. Her federal student loan debt — all $36,000 of it — was wiped clean, she said.

But with the sheer numbers of former Corinthian students — nationally, about 15,000 were enrolled around the time the colleges closed, and 350,000 have borrowed to attend a Corinthian school since 2010 and may be eligible for some form of relief, given the company’s documented abuses — there isn’t enough help to go around, advocates say.

“The capacity of legal aid in California is completely stretched thin because of the Corinthian closures,” said Angela Perry, a law fellow at the nonprofit Public Advocates firm in San Francisco.

In his veto message, Brown said he was sympathetic to the struggles of Corinthian students but argued it was “premature” to expand legal aid services for them, given the federal government’s attention to their plight.

“The U.S. Department of Education has taken the matter of loan discharge seriously,” he wrote. “In recent months, it has greatly eased the burden of filings for many students, and its work to provide a simple, swift and fair process for students continues.”

Part of the confusion stems from a little-used provision of federal law that allows students to apply for debt relief if they believe they were victims of fraud. Students generally apply for loan forgiveness only when their school closes before they have been able to graduate.

But this summer, under pressure from California Attorney General Kamala Harris and others, the Department of Education created a special claim form for students who as far back as 2010 attended Heald programs it found to have inflated job-placement numbers — about 80 percent of all of the chain’s offerings.

Roughly 6,100 such claims had been filed as of mid-October compared with only a handful in the past, according to the department. Still, the department has estimated that roughly 40,000 former Heald students alone were defrauded because of their programs’ phony job placement rates and are eligible for the relief.

Roman Rojas, of Richmond, is one of them. But the former Heald information technology student — who now attends Ohlone College in Fremont — opted not to apply for loan forgiveness, fearing the move would wipe out his course credits.

“I asked around a lot, and people weren’t giving me straight answers, so I didn’t want to jeopardize that,” he said. “It’s so confusing.”

There is no indication that students would risk losing their course credits by applying for any form of debt relief, said Noah Zinner, a senior attorney with Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, based in Oakland.

The catch, he said, is that students who transfer even one credit to a new college lose their eligibility for a “closed school” loan discharge. On the other hand, he said, transfer students might still be eligible for relief if they prove they were defrauded by their school.

And those who apply for debt forgiveness can have their student loan bills put on hold while they wait — through another process. This is why legal aid centers are so overwhelmed.

Johnson, the former Heald student, made it through those hoops and recently registered for an allied health program at Skyline College, a community college in San Bruno.

She has to start over, she said, but, “It’s nice to not have the debt and to not have to worry about getting a job with a useless degree.”
350,000: The number of students who took out federal student loans totaling $3.5 billion to attend a Corinthian-owned college since 2010
40,000: The estimated number eligible for student loan debt relief because they were once enrolled in a Heald College program that the U.S. Department of Education found to have misled students about its job prospects
15,000: The number of students eligible for debt relief because they attended a Corinthian school that closed before or shortly after they were able to finish their programs
Source: U.S. Department of Education

Photo: Corinthian College, which no longer exists. Via Wikipedia.

Fannie Mae Accused Of Neglecting Foreclosures In Minority Neighborhoods

By Carrie Wells, The Baltimore Sun (TNS)

BALTIMORE — A collection of fair housing advocacy groups on Wednesday accused Fannie Mae of a pattern of maintaining and marketing its foreclosed houses in white areas — including in the Baltimore region — better than in minority areas.

The National Fair Housing Alliance and 19 local fair housing organizations filed a complaint alleging violations of the federal Fair Housing Act with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development after a five-year investigation in which investigators visited and documented the conditions of the foreclosed properties Fannie Mae owns in 34 metro areas.

The investigators presented photos at a news conference Wednesday of boarded windows, broken gutters, dead animals, litter and other signs of neglect that they said were far more common at Fannie Mae-owned homes in black and Latino neighborhoods.

“As the largest owner of (foreclosed) properties in the country, everything they do is magnified,” said Anne Houghtaling, director of the HOPE Fair Housing Center in Chicago, during a news conference in Washington. “You can spot them from a block away. They are the neighborhood eyesore….Because of this there is an uneven recovery in our neighborhoods.”

Fannie Mae, a government-sponsored company charged with encouraging home ownership, disputed the allegations.

“We strongly disagree with these allegations and firmly believe they have no merit,” Fannie Mae spokesman Andrew Wilson said in an email. “We are confident that our standards ensure that properties in all neighborhoods are treated equally, and we perform rigorous quality control to make sure that is the case. We remain dedicated to neighborhood stabilization efforts across the nation, including with respect to our maintenance of foreclosed properties.”

“The bottom line is that (foreclosures) in communities of color are significantly less maintained than in white communities across the country,” said Gail Williams, executive director of Metro Fair Housing Services in Atlanta.

Photo: via Flickr