Hey, NU, How about a Symposium on Ethics instead of “Entrepreneurship?”

November 20, 2012

Uncategorized

WASHINGTON, D.C. (exclusive) by Ivy Harper

In the Winter of 2010, I observed a well-attended NU “Symposium on Entrepreneurship” wherein Union Bank/Nelnet’s Angie Muhleisen was a keynote speaker.

Knowing what I knew about Nelnet’s egregious, years-long federal subsidy scam of the U.S. Department of Education – also known as the American taxpayer – I was interested in hearing what Muhleisen had to say. Would she speak frankly about Nelnet’s many legal woes and widespread ethics violations that Dick Piersol of the Lincoln Journal Star (LJS) and Henry Cordes + Steve Jordon at the OWH had chronicled over the years for Nebraskans who pored over the business pages. Or would she be all rah-rah Union Bank puff stuff.

Well, one thing that she did do is cemented in my mind. Ms. Muhleisen used this phrase twice, “I know it’s not politically correct but…”

Both times, she was talking about how her company – Union Bank/Nelnet –  wants to know a couple of things – deal-breakers, she implied –  before they make hires: “Are you right with your family? And are you right with God?”

Then, she repeated the line, “I know it’s not politically correct” but the proverbial “we” want to know. Her point was supposed to make those in attendance get all goose-bumpy, I guess, about the values of the Dunlap Family, which of course, includes her brother, Mike, who runs Nelnet.

Ms. Muhleisen was, in essence, saying, “Look folks, I know companies are not supposed to ask about religion and faith but we – the pious Dunlap family – we just cannot help it. We really want to know whether our bank tellers are right with the Good Lord himself. And that our UB/NN employees have a faith-centered, nuclear family.”

Then, Angie started in on a riff about how Nelnet “got in” the student loan business way back before anyone else wanted to “get in.”

I looked around. Half of the many attendees were sweet, eager students with clipboards in hands and the Symposium’s glossy white packet full of “Entrepreneurial Tips.” Number 1 was: “Use the Federal Government as your own, personal ATM.” Kidding.

But seriously, Muhleisen’s sub-text was: Nelnet got big before its competitors figured out just how insanely lucrative ripping off the Feds and ensuring that American students end up in a form of indentured servitude really is. In other words, they had the student loan shark market to themselves for a long time. That’s when “they” made Nelnet what it was.

Uhmmm. Yeah, Angie Muhleisen did not mention that nearly $400 hundred million dollars worth of Nelnet’s “profits” over the years were in the form of  “unwarranted,” federal subsidies + according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Nelnet knowingly conducted a “scheme” that deprived American taxpayers of nearly half a billion bucks. Step aside, Solyndra.

I heard one skeptic return a question to Angie Muhleisen, “But, was Nelnet right with God as they scammed the American taxpayer?”

It was eye-opening listening to Angie Muhleisen because one could actually come away with the belief that instead of stealing, Nelnet’s money came to them by their gosh-darn, Texas-cattleman-Paul Engler-like, brilliant-business “acumen,” which – stay with me here, readers – is synonymous with “Entrepreneurship” which is why, naturally, Angie Muhleisen was invited to such a note-worthy NU seminar rather than, say, Rebekah Davis, of Alliance, who happens to be a chaplain.

I was kinda hoping that Ms. Muhleisen would talk about how her brother developed the whole shebang out at Big Sandy and how easy it is for Predatory Student Loan Lenders to buy second homes even as they’re taking money from American students who can’t afford to buy their first condos and who are living in their Baby Boomer parents’ basements, Baby Boomers being lucky that Bankers in the 50’s, 60’s, & 70’s were not Predatory Student Loan Sharks so fortunate Baby Boomers could pay for college by working a few summers at the local Dairy Queen, Hovland Swansons, Miller & Paine’s, or Penny’s.

But back to Muhleisen’s second Nebraska home out at big Sandy. The wrought-iron, arch-gated Community boasts lavish houses with brick-red, barrel-tile roofing, Spanish stucco, winding driveways, and the lushest landscapes that Campbell’s Nursery has to offer.

Speaking of Senator Kathy Campbell, I remember the day that Coby Mach started his “Big Mach Attack” series of radio broadcast lies about me in the late stages of the 2010 Congressional race. Kathy Campbell was in the room with Mach conferring with him as I entered the “O” Street station. Since I’d met with her in her Unicameral office once, I waved. Senator Campbell shot back the harshest stare I think I’ve ever received. That phrase, “if looks could kill” remains in use for a reason. Coincidence? Perhaps. Other LIBA business? Maybe.

More like The Good Senator  was announcing: “Don’t think I’m going to be civil to you when you’ve been critical of my good friends at Union Bank + Nelnet.” Yes, that’s what her fierce eyes said, all right.

And it was in that moment that I realized who gave Mr. Mach his marching orders. That day, anyway.

To be continued.

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