LOS ANGELES – Last month The TIMES published an article that even a political science wonk would find curious. The authors wrote an article that read near identical to troubles currently facing a Los Angeles Councilman and USC, but this time, it was about the “squeaky clean” Karen Bass.
Bass has formally given notice to Congress she will no longer run for her seat, and has since turned her sights on the Los Angeles mayor’s office, after Mark Ridley-Thomas, her “extended relative”, made the decision to not run.
No one could have imagined that his declining to run had to do with him facing scrutiny for a donation he made to USC, one his lawyer, Stephen Kaufman, said was “ok”.
“This contribution was a result of organic discussions between the Supervisor and Dean Marilyn Flynn about how the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work could help address the lack of academic focus on the needs of African Americans,” Kaufman said in the statement. “The Supervisor followed USC’s directions in how the donation was made.”
That doesn’t appear to be a true statement.
Ridley-Thomas’ 20- count indictment showed that he sent $100,000 from his campaign account, that was listed under Kaufman Legal Group, to Community Partners, before it went to USC, who then sent it to the United Way, and finally landing . Community Partners returned the donation because of “optics”.
“I would’t have cut that check,” said David Gould, the architect of campaign finance reporting. “The nonprofit returning it was a huge red flag.”
Gould provides campaign finance reporting services to a who’s who of elected officials, and says his clients refer to him as “Mr. NO”.
Kaufman, currently lists Karen Bass as a client, and while he is no longer representing Ridley-Thomas on his legal matter, it is believed he was the lawyer Bass referenced when responding to issues surrounding why the scholarship was never recorded.
Bass claimed “her lawyer performed an audit and amended her forms” eight years after she received it because a “former chief of staff” forgot to do it. Convenient huh?
The TIMES noted Bass asked for, and received, an ethics waiver to receive the scholarship, since it was considered a gift.
What neither reporter asked her was, if the scholarship was cleared by Congress, why wait so long to report it and who tipped off her “lawyer” that it wasn’t on her forms?
Is the connection Stephen Kaufman?
Did he use information obtained as Ridley-Thomas’ lawyer, to “obstruct justice” by amending the form before the media found out?
In 2011, Bass was elected to Congress and according to Ballotpedia, she was placed on the Budget Committee and has been a long standing member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs.
Her job was to make appropriations in the budget and based on interviews conducted with former professors at USC, they asked her to sponsor legislation related to restoring funding that universities lost, which Bass said was not atypical.
In March 2011, USC issued a press release detailing a visit to Congress that was headed by former USC President C. L. Max Nikias, where they met with Congressional leaders, including Bass, to discuss “federal research funding in education, innovation and job creation”.
In 2019, USC reported:
USC delegation in D.C.: Research expenditures near $1 billion
In its last fiscal year, USC’s research expenditures stood at $920 million, about half of which was sponsored by federal agencies. The university is a national leader in areas as diverse as Alzheimer’s, cybersecurity and quantum computing.
In addition, as Congress works to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the USC delegation advocated for indexing the Pell Grant award to inflation. Pell Grants are a form of federal student aid awarded to low-income students. Twenty-two percent of USC’s undergraduates are Pell Grant-eligible, placing the university at the very top among the nation’s leading private research institutions.USC News
Bass dismissed the university’s visits as normal.
“They [universities] meet with us every year, and we in general support what they’re asking for, which is a part of a big, huge appropriations bill,” Bass said.
For some reason, The TIMES didn’t press Bass on her “belief” she would get her master’s degree for “free” from USC, simply because she graduated from their physician’s assistant program.
Once she realized she had to pay, a campaigner donor to Bass, who happened to work in the Social Work department with former Dean Marilyn Flynn, saved her and encouraged Flynn to give Bass a free scholarship to attend.
Did Bass receive the scholarship in exchange for votes, and would claiming the scholarship, during the same voting cycle, raise suspicion of “pay to play”? Kinda like what Mark Ridley-Thomas was allegedly doing?
Keep in mind, USC never issued a press release on awarding Bass the scholarship just as they didn’t provide one when they brought Sebastian Ridley-Thomas into the fold.
Bass has continued to introduce bills related to foster youth that don’t appear to move past the initial phase, which The TIMES also points out.
Paul Carlo, who is now retired from USC, told The Times in an email that he wrote to Bass and asked her to address how the federal government doled out funds for social work training and education. A change imposed about 1995 had prevented state and local governments from securing federal reimbursement for training professional social workers through partnerships with about two dozen private universities with social work programs, including USC.
Carlo wanted the law amended to allow both private and public universities to be considered for federal reimbursement.
Carlo stated that his request to Bass was done as “an independent child welfare advocate,” and not as a university representative.
Carlo’s letter to Bass led to her introducing the Child Welfare Workforce Partnership Act in July 2014. The bill never came up for a vote, and similar legislation has not been proposed since. Click here to see for yourself.
Bass is listed as director of her nonprofit, National Foster Youth Institute, which brought in over $750,000 in 2020.