DeVos’ student aid chief quits foundation board following questions on conflict of interest – Politico
The Education Department appointee who oversees the government’s $1.5 trillion student loan portfolio on Tuesday stepped down from the board of an organization that owns some of that debt, after POLITICO asked about a potential conflict of interest.
Mark Brown, a retired major general in the U.S. Air Force, in March was selected by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to be the new head of the department’s Office of Federal Student Aid. Until Tuesday, he also served as an unpaid member of the board of directors of KnowledgeWorks, a non-profit foundation that holds about $30 million in federally guaranteed student loans.
Several ethics experts said that arrangement raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest because Brown’s unit is responsible for regulating and overseeing student loans backed by the government, including those that are owned by KnowledgeWorks.
Brown “has decided that in an abundance of caution and to avoid even the remote appearance of conflict, he will resign from his unpaid, nonprofit board position immediately,” Education Department spokesperson Liz Hill said.