As Lori Loughlin and company are dealing with the fallout of their recently exposed college admissions scandal, the Washington Examiner reports Bill and Hillary Clinton executed one of their own college scandals nearly two decades ago and walked away unscathed.
According to the report, Bill and Hillary “tried to bully a prestigious scholarship program into selecting Chelsea Clinton’s then-boyfriend.”
It didn’t work, but they tried Trina Vargo wrote in a new book, Shenanigans: The U.S.-Ireland Relationship in Uncertain Times, the Washington Examiner reports.
Check it out:
The episode took place nearly 19 years ago but has fresh resonance after revelations last month of multimillion-dollar bribes paid by parents to get their children into elite colleges, including Stanford University, which Chelsea Clinton and her then-boyfriend Jeremy Kane attended. Among those recently implicated was Michelle Obama’s former tennis coach.
Trina Vargo, a veteran U.S. adviser on Ireland, founded the George J. Mitchell Scholarship in 2000. It was named after the former senator who brokered the talks that led to the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement. Vargo said that Bill Clinton intervened in the first year of the scholarship, when Kane, whose 3.19 grade-point average was much weaker than those of the top candidates, had failed to make the final selection round.
President Clinton, who was in his last weeks in the White House, called Mitchell to express his displeasure, according to Vargo in her new book Shenanigans: The U.S.-Ireland Relationship in Uncertain Times. He had submitted a letter of recommendation for Kane, who had already landed an internship in the Clinton White House during his relationship with Chelsea.
Vargo reportedly said the George J. Mitchell Scholarship narrowed their list to 20 finalists, sans Kane. Clinton’s strong-arming from the White House seemed to fall flat on the organization who proceeded with choosing 12 of their 20 finalists to receive the scholarship.
“There’s no way to see that as anything other than an attempt to influence a situation that hadn’t been finalized yet,” Vargo said of Clinton’s call.
“In light of the college admissions scandal, I don’t think it’s very unusual for people who have money or influence to use what means they have, whether it’s for their children or friends,” she continued.
“It was with some uneasiness that he rang me to say that President Clinton had just been onto him and he was very unhappy that the boyfriend of his daughter Chelsea was not among the 20 finalists for a Mitchell Scholarship,” Vargo wrote inShenanigans concerning the phone call, via the Washington Examiner. “Mitchell made it clear that he was not asking me to do anything; he just wanted to understand the background and asked what he should say to the president.”
Vargo continued: “If he had called George Mitchell after we had selected the twelve finalists just to say that the organization doesn’t know what they’re doing because they didn’t pick him, that would be fine from my perspective. The timing … it was meant to influence decisions.”
According to Vargo, she actually ran into Hillary after the finalists were chosen and Kane failed to make the list. The interaction was spiteful, she contended.
“It was immediately clear to me that she knew I was the person she viewed as responsible for Chelsea’s boyfriend not getting the scholarship,” Vargo continued in the book. “For those few seconds, her eyes closed to a slit, the way they do when one is unhappy and sizing up a person.”
The Washington Examiner reports Kane actually worked in the White House as a speechwriter for a couple of months in 2000.
Here’s more on Kane from the report:
The son of a Presbyterian minister and a tennis coach, Kane was at Stanford on a swimming scholarship. He attended the 2000 Democratic National Convention with the Clintons in Los Angeles. After failing to get a Mitchell Scholarship, he landed a job as a speechwriter for Sen. John Kerry. Now 40, he founded a charter school in Nashville and ran for mayor there in 2015 but finished in last place with less than 5% of the vote. He now works in real estate.
Kane’s friendship with Bill Clinton endured after his 2001 breakup with Chelsea, now 39. In 2014 the former president flew to Nashville to speak at an event he had organized. Kane declined to comment when contacted by the Washington Examiner.
Winners of the 2000 Mitchell Scholarship, the Washington Examiner reports, included: “Desha Girod, now a government professor at Georgetown University, Gabrielle Paquette, dean of the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, Massachusetts state Rep. Tommy Vitolo, and Laela Sturdy, a partner at Google’s growth venture capital fund. Mikela French, 42, who graduated from Boise State University, was also one of the Mitchell Scholars that year.”