The husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) admitted on Thursday to sending an inappropriate letter identified in a state audit that appeared to help an applicant to the University of California, Berkeley, get accepted to the school.
The California State Auditor issued a scathing report on Tuesday that found the University of California system admitted 64 students from 2013 through 2018 based on those students’ connections to university staff or donors, instead of their academic records.
“These inappropriate admissions decisions…denied more qualified applicants educational opportunities,” the report states. One admission at UC Berkeley was “particularly problematic,” because the school “appears to have admitted this student because of an inappropriate letter of support from a university Regent.”
Senator Feinstein’s husband Richard Blum, a financier and University of California Regent, said he was the author of the letter in comments to the San Francisco Chronicle. Blum also admitted that he had written numerous such letters over the years to UC chancellors at multiple campuses.
“I did it a bunch of times,” Blum said. “No one ever told me it was wrong.” Blum is the founder of Blum Capital, and is reportedly worth roughly $1 billion.
Of the 64 inappropriate admissions uncovered by the California auditor, 42 took place at UC Berkeley. Most of the applicants were white, and the families of at least half of the applicants’ families have $150,000 or higher incomes.
“The pervasiveness of this problem at UC Berkeley demonstrates that campus leadership has failed to establish a campus culture that values commitment to an admissions process based on fairness and applicants’ merits and achievements,” according to the report.
The report comes over a year after the Justice Department uncovered a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme led by William Singer, who helped various wealthy families cheat college admissions standards.