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Thu Jun 13, 2019, 10:22 PM

DeVos' student aid chief quits foundation board following questions on conflict of interest

Source: Politico

DeVosí student aid chief quits foundation board following questions on conflict of interest

By MICHAEL STRATFORD 06/11/2019 05:39 PM EDT

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 departmentís 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.

Hill said last week that Brown's position on the board of the foundation had been reviewed by agency ethics officials and that he was "recused from any particular matters related to KnowledgeWorks." On Tuesday, after POLITICO requested more information about the recusal and the department's position, Brown resigned.

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Read more: https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/11/devos-student-aid-chief-quits-foundation-1522518

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