Co-Host of Gillibrand Fundraiser Charged in College Admissions Scam

Kirsten Gillibrand
Kirsten Gillibrand / Getty Images
March 15, 2019

One of the wealthy mothers charged in the massive college admissions scam co-hosted a fundraiser last week for 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.).

Marketing CEO Jane Buckingham served as a co-host for the Beverly Hills, California, event Saturday on behalf of Gillibrand, Page Six reported. Gillibrand has formed a presidential exploratory committee but is not technically an official candidate.

Investigators say Buckingham made a bogus $50,000 "charitable donation" that in reality went to pay a professional to take the ACT for her son last July. The ACT and SAT are the two primary standardized tests used by colleges in the admissions process.

She's one of several major Democratic donors to be charged in what the Justice Department called a "nationwide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the admission of students to elite universities as purported athletic recruits," the Washington Free Beacon reported:

Parents paid William Rick Singer, owner of The Edge College & Career Network, LLC, to ensure their children's admissions to university, according to court documents. Singer would then arrange for special proctors to fly from Texas and California for the SAT and ACT tests, correcting students' answers, according to the court filing. He's also accused of creating fake athletic profiles for students, even though some did not play sports at all. Singer then bribed coaches and administrators of NCAA Division I programs like Yale, Stanford, and the University of Southern California to recruit the students, all but guaranteeing their admission, according to the DOJ.

Other Democratic donors charged in the scheme include actress Felicity Huffman and lawyer Gordon Caplan.

It's another mark in a rough month for Gillibrand, who is also dealing with criticism of how her office handled a sexual harassment complaint made against one of her top aides. Her nascent candidacy has made no headway in a crowded field; one recent Iowa poll showed the New York lawmaker with zero percent support.