AUCKLAND – The husband of Senator Diane Feinstein (California) has inappropriately influenced the decision to admit to the University of California as a longtime regent in the United Kingdom, said the California state auditor.
The revelation stems from a critical report by auditor Elaine Howell, who found this week that over a six-year period at UC, “campuses incorrectly accepted 64 wealthy and well-connected students as donor, family and friend services,” while denying more qualified applicants.
An audit on Wednesday said an unidentified regent had sent a letter inappropriately on behalf of a less qualified candidate; The audit office confirmed to POLITICO on Thursday that Richard Bloom, an investment banker married to Feinstein, had been a member of the UC Board of Regents since 2002.
Bloom told the San Francisco Chronicle that he believed he had done nothing wrong and had been writing letters of recommendation on behalf of friends and family children for years.
“I’ve done it many times,” Bloom said. “Usually friends. My cousin’s brother wanted to join Davis. They would send me a letter and tell me why he was a good child, and I would send him to the Chancellor. I did it forever. “
Based on the audit, Blum sent an “inappropriate letter of support” to UC Chancellor Berkeley for a student with only a 26 percent chance of winning a place on the waiting list – and that the candidate was later admitted. The audit considered this action “particularly problematic”.
State policy specifies that University of California regents “should not seek to improperly influence the outcome of admission decisions, other than to send letters of recommendation, where appropriate, through the regular admissions process and staff.”
The auditor challenged Blum’s letter because it went to the Chancellor out of the ordinary process and was then forwarded through the Development Office. “Given the low probability of accepting this candidate and the prominent and influential role that the Regents have in the university, we conclude that the decision to admit this candidate was probably influenced by the Regent’s advocacy,” the audit said.
Feinstein’s office declined to comment.
According to the audit, one of Berkeley’s most selective campuses has accepted 42 applicants “through its regular admissions process based on staff, management and donor relationships.” The audit found that candidates “were not as qualified as others who were not admitted,” the report said.
In addition, “campus staff falsely identified 22 candidates as student recruits for donations from or as a service to well-connected families,” the report said.
The review was requested by state lawmakers last year after a bribery scandal over national colleagues over bribes involved a University of California football coach, Los Angeles, among other employees at a number of prestigious schools across the country.