Advance Notice: Briefs

Nessel joins state AGs urging DeVos to disclose student loan data

By: - April 9, 2019 4:50 pm

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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is one of almost two dozen top state law enforcement officials from around the country who are demanding better access to student loan data from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Nessel’s office on Tuesday announced that the Democrat would join 19 other attorneys general in signing a letter to DeVos that urges the West Michigan native and President Trump cabinet member to allow state officials better access to student loan information when it’s requested for investigative purposes.

Dana Nessel

Nessel said “the information is vital to the states’ efforts to protect consumers from illegal, unfair, abusive or deceptive practices by actors in the higher education industry.”

This comes after a CNN report that the Education Department “didn’t grant a single claim for loan forgiveness to people who said they were defrauded by their colleges between June and December 2018.” CNN reports that more than 158,000 people are waiting to hear whether their debt will be canceled.

The letter to DeVos from last week claims that under her leadership, the Department of Education has routinely rejected states’ requests for student loan information, which the AGs say sets a detrimental new precedent.

“Dual oversight in the higher education arena by state and federal authorities historically has been the cornerstone of responsible regulation and policy-making,” the attorneys write.

“In furtherance of this principle, the Department has routinely disclosed student loan data to federal and state law enforcement agencies in connection with such agencies’ investigation of potentially illegal conduct,” they continued. “The department’s recent rejection of requests from law enforcement agencies is a sharp departure from its long-standing practice.”

Nessel said she believes that “Secretary DeVos is allowing her department to withhold information that is vital to our states’ efforts to investigate agencies that are harming student loan borrowers in Michigan and across the country.”

Betsy DeVos

Nessel’s office also announced that she was part of another group of state AGs last week who filed a brief opposing an anti-abortion law in Kentucky.

She is one of 19 attorneys general to file an amicus brief asking the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to affirm a lower court’s determination that the Kentucky abortion law is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.

The measure, signed into law last month by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, would outlaw abortions for women in Kentucky who wish to end a pregnancy due to the gender, race or disability of a fetus.

The brief argues that the law violates a woman’s right to an abortion with the obstructions it places in the path of those who would seek the procedure in Kentucky.

“Women should have access to abortion services, no matter what state they live in,” said Nessel. “I will always fight for women’s reproductive rights.”

In February, Nessel pulled Michigan from four federal lawsuits that would have restricted abortion rights which began under her Republican predecessor, Bill Schuette.

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.